This study was conducted in three public middle schools from three school districts in the rural Midwest.
Across the sample, 46 percent were female, 77 percent were eligible for free or reduced lunch, and 31 percent received special education services. Eighty-four percent were White, 9 percent were Black, 3 percent were Hispanic, and 5 percent were of other races or ethnicities. Students were in grades 6 through 8, with higher numbers of students in grades 6 (n=51) and 7 (n=55) than grades 8. There were 42 students with disabilities in the final sample, 19 of whom were labeled with a specific learning disability.
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. Students received the intervention for 40 minutes per session, 4 times per week for 8 weeks in small, mixed-grade groups of 4 to 6 students. Across the three school districts, students received an average of 17.3 hours of instruction, but the number of intervention sessions that students received varied significantly. Interventionists used semi-scripted lessons and grade-level science texts organized around four, two-week thematic units. The intervention was delivered using explicit instructional routines, feedback, and gradual release of responsibility to students. Each instructional lesson consisted of three components: 1) identifying keywords and main ideas, 2) synthesizing information within a single text for summarization and making inferences, and 3) integrating information across multiple texts. Intervention group students continued to participate in core content area classes.
Students in the comparison group participated in elective classes such as band, choir, and art while intervention group students attended intervention sessions. Comparison group students, like intervention group students, continued to participate in core content area classes.
Support for implementation
Interventionists received 12 hours of training on instruction delivery, behavior management, and supporting student engagement. The research team also led weekly meetings with the interventionists to provide ongoing instructional support and supplied scripted lessons for each instructional session.