WWC review of this study

Evaluations of Technology-Assisted Small-Group Tutoring for Struggling Readers

Madden, Nancy A.; Slavin, Robert E. (2017). Reading & Writing Quarterly, v33 n4 p327-334. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1155720

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: August 2018

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Reading Fluency outcomes—Substantively important positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Success for All assessment

Tutoring With Alphie (TWA) vs. Tutoring

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Full sample;
478 students




Show Supplemental Findings

Success for All assessment

Tutoring With Alphie (TWA) vs. Tutoring

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Grade: 2;
140 students





Success for All assessment

Tutoring With Alphie (TWA) vs. Tutoring

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Grade: 1;
208 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 takes place at 13 schools in Baltimore, Maryland, United States at Baltimore City Public Schools. These 13 schools were using the Success for All (SFA) whole-school reform approach, and principals volunteered their schools to participate in this study. The subjects in the study were students in these schools in Grades 1-3.

Study sample

Sample characteristics for the participants in this study were not broken down into specific numbers. Rather the author reports that the 14 schools served very disadvantaged populations where almost all students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches and almost all students were African American or Hispanic.

Intervention Group

"Tutoring with Alphie (TWA) is a technology-assisted reading tutoring model that utilizes a small-group tutoring approach. Paraprofessionals work as tutors with a maximum of six children at a time; these tutors work in the middle of the school day (starting after a 90-minute reading period). The tutors for TWA were paraprofessionals who have received training from the Success for All Foundation, and work with children in grades 1-3 who are significantly below grade reading level. The tutors worked with students to help them with problems/if they get stuck, ensure that the students are working well together and are on task, and assess children's mastery of specific skills. Each small group worked 30 minutes per day in a group of six that shares three laptops. Children with similar reading skills pair up and take turns as ""coach"" and ""player"" during engaging lessons. Upon completion of the activities, the tutor assesses the responses from the pair of students to provide an external check and ensure that they are making good progress. TWA carried out regular assessments to note progress and help facilitate placement decisions made by teachers and tutors. While the authors did not provide the length of this intervention, the pretest was conducted in November 2013 and the posttest was conducted in May 2014."

Comparison Group

Schools in the comparison group were encouraged to use their existing staff to "do as much tutoring as they could." Tutoring is a standard part of the Success for All whole-school reform approach that all schools used, so this would likely be the same as a business as usual group.

Support for implementation

No support for implementation was documented in this study.


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