WWC review of this study

Racing against the Vocabulary Gap: Matthew Effects in Early Vocabulary Instruction and Intervention

Coyne, Michael D.; McCoach, D. Betsy; Ware, Sharon; Austin, Christy R.; Loftus-Rattan, Susan M.; Baker, Doris L. (2019). Exceptional Children, v85 n2 p163-179. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1202483

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: November 2018

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

Expressive target word measure

EVI (Extended Vocabulary Instruction) vs. Elements of Reading Vocabulary

3 Weeks

RCT: Full sample;
1,431 students





Listening Comprehension (author developed)

EVI (Extended Vocabulary Instruction) vs. Elements of Reading Vocabulary

3 Weeks

RCT: Full sample;
1,157 students





Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - IV

EVI (Extended Vocabulary Instruction) vs. Elements of Reading Vocabulary

3 Weeks

RCT: Full sample;
1,440 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.

  • Female: 41%
    Male: 49%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
    • B
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    Northeast, West
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


This study took place across 48 elementary schools that were in urban, suburban, and rural districts in both the eastern United States and the northwestern United States. All kindergarten classes from each of these 48 elementary schools participated in the study.

Study sample

Gender was missing for approximately 7 percent of the randomized sample, 41 percent were identified as female, and 49 percent were identified as male. Approximately 18 percent were white, 19 percent were black, and 9 percent were some other race. About 38 percent of the sample was Latino or Latina, and for these participants race is not provided. Race and ethnicity were not observed for about 12 percent of the sample. (p.5)

Intervention Group

The intervention was a supplemental "Tier 2" extended vocabulary instruction (EVI) program. EVI was delivered to groups of three to four students for 30 minutes a day, four days per week, for about 22 weeks. EVI was aligned with the classroom-wide "Tier 1" intervention called Elements of Reading Vocabulary, which both intervention and comparison students received over the course of 24 weeks. The interventionists provided explicit instruction, modeling, and several opportunities for students to practice use of the Tier-1 program's target words. Interventionists modeled the vocabulary words by using them in sentences and supporting students to use the new words in their own sentences. The interventionists also provided individual support to the students. (pp. 6-7)

Comparison Group

All students, both those in the intervention group and those in the comparison group, received the classroom-wide Elements of Reading Vocabulary (EOR-V) program. EOR-V is a classroom-wide (Tier 1) vocabulary curriculum that provides 24 weeks of daily, 20-minute vocabulary lessons focused on teaching target words. During each week, students were able to use the target words in a series of activities. (pp. 5-6)

Support for implementation

Interventionists (who were paraprofessionals, reading teachers, certified teachers, or other professional staff in study schools) participated in professional development for one full day. They also received coaching throughout the implementation period. (pp. 6-7)


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