WWC review of this study

Effective Classroom Instruction: Implications of Child Characteristics by Reading Instruction Interactions on First Graders' Word Reading Achievement

Connor, Carol McDonald; Morrison, Frederick J.; Schatschneider, Christopher; Toste, Jessica R.; Lundblom, Erin; Crowe, Elizabeth C.; Fishman, Barry (2011). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, v4 n3 p173-207. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ932552

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: October 2017

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Comprehension outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Letter and word reading skills (WJ-III Letter-Word Identification subtest, W score)

Individualized Student Instruction (ISI) vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
396 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

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This study took place in seven schools in an ethnically and economically diverse north Florida school district among first-grade classrooms.

Study sample

The seven schools participating in the study ranged in percentage of children qualifying for free- or reduced-price lunch from 4 to 87%. Of the students in the sample, almost half qualified for free- or reduced-price lunch (44% in the intervention group, 49% in the comparison group). The majority of the students were girls (51% in the intervention group, 54% in the comparison group). Race/ethnicity percentages were as follows: 32% of the intervention and 26% of the control group were African American, 45% of both groups were white, and the remaining children across both study groups identified as other ethnic groups (e.g., Hispanic, multiracial). In terms of eligibility for special or exceptional student education (e.g., speech impairment, language impairment, developmental disability), 14% of children in the intervention and 15% of children in the comparison group were identified as eligible.

Intervention Group

The ISI intervention takes into account the interaction between child characteristics (e.g., language and literacy skills) and balanced instruction (e.g., basic skill vs. meaningful reading experiences) to determine the optimal reading instruction for each child. The ISI intervention has five components: (1) conceptualizing reading instruction across multiple dimensions; (2) student assessment and progress monitoring; (3) Assessment-to-instruction (A2i) web-based software, a teacher instruction planning tool that computes recommended amounts and types of reading instruction for each student using computer algorithms; (4) teacher training including online professional development resources, workshop, school, and classroom-based support; and (5) implementation in the classroom. The intervention is designed to be implemented daily during a 90-minute dedicated block of time devoted to literacy instruction throughout the school year. Student assessment data from the fall and then winter were entered into A2i which resulted in relevant instruction recommendations based on the most up-to-date student assessments of word reading and vocabulary.

Comparison Group

The comparison group received literacy instruction as usual during the 90-minute block of time devoted to literacy instruction. Teachers in this group were provided written reports of the assessment results for their students in the fall, winter, and spring, and received the intervention the following school year when the study was completed.

Support for implementation

Teachers received intensive professional development, including the use of online resources, videos of master teachers, and biweekly classroom-based support during literacy instruction and monthly school-level meetings provided by highly trained research assistants. Professional development focused on how to use the A2i software for progress monitoring and planning instruction; using assessment to guide instruction; classroom management, using stations or centers effectively; differentiating instructional content according to students’ reading and language skill levels; and using research to inform practices, among other topics. All schools used Open Court as their core literacy curriculum and were mandated to dedicate a 90-minute block of time devoted to literacy instruction and use of small group instruction each day.


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