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November 2019


What research has been conducted on intensive acceleration classes?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on intensive acceleration classes. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed intensive acceleration classes. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist."

Research References

  1. Christodoulou, J. A., Cyr, A., Murtagh, J., Chang, P., Lin, J., Guarino, A. J., Hook, P., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2017). Impact of intensive summer reading intervention for children with reading disabilities and difficulties in early elementary school. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(2), 115-127.
    From the abstract: "Efficacy of an intensive reading intervention implemented during the nonacademic summer was evaluated in children with reading disabilities or difficulties (RD). Students (ages 6-9) were randomly assigned to receive Lindamood-Bell's "Seeing Stars" program (n = 23) as an intervention or to a waiting-list control group (n = 24). Analysis of pre- and posttesting revealed significant interactions in favor of the intervention group for untimed word and pseudoword reading, timed pseudoword reading, oral reading fluency, and symbol imagery. The interactions mostly reflected (a) significant declines in the nonintervention group from pre- to posttesting, and (2) no decline in the intervention group. The current study offers direct evidence for widening differences in reading abilities between students with RD who do and do not receive intensive summer reading instruction. Intervention implications for RD children are discussed, especially in relation to the relevance of summer intervention to prevent further decline in struggling early readers."
  2. Fuchs, d., Fuchs, L. S., & Vaughn, S. (2014). What is intensive instruction and why is it important? TEACHING Exceptional Children, 46(4), 13-18.
    From the abstract: "In this article, the authors present two models of intensive instruction for students with and without disabilities who are having difficulties with Response to Intervention (RTI) currently in practice (Tier 1: general instruction that all students receive in mainstream classrooms, and Tier 2: programs often involving small group instruction). The authors present the two models of intensive instruction as follows: Model 1: "Intensified Tier 2 Instruction" is designed for the student that is progressing, but progressing too slowly. The plan requires a greater amount of practice with feedback to solidify and expand proficiency on foundation skills, with more step-by-step instruction, focusing on teaching new skills and strategies, and using student performance as feedback for adjusting instruction. Model 2: "Data-Based Individualization" is designed for students requiring individualized instruction. This method of one-to-one instruction is designed to meet a student's learning needs. This empirically proven method individually tailors instruction for students with significant learning problems. The article next provides an outline of the process teachers would follow when implementing the two models. With appropriate training, reading and math specialists, speech/language clinicians, school psychologists, and special educators can be trained to help the students most difficult to teach."
  3. Murray, C. S., Coleman, M. A., Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., & Roberts, G. (2012). Designing and delivering intensive interventions: A teacher's toolkit. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.
    From the abstract: "This toolkit provides activities and resources to assist practitioners in designing and delivering intensive interventions in reading and mathematics for K-12 students with significant learning difficulties and disabilities. Grounded in research, this toolkit is based on the Center on Instruction's "Intensive Interventions for Students Struggling in Reading and Mathematics: A Practice Guide." The practice guide examines four considerations for intensifying interventions: (1) supporting cognitive processes; (2) differentiating and intensifying instructional delivery; (3) increasing instructional time, and (4) reducing group size. Although progress monitoring of student learning is a critical step when implementing intensive interventions, this topic is outside the scope of the practice guide and, therefore, is not included in this toolkit. (Contains 1 figure.) [For related report, "Capacity Building Indicators & Dissemination Strategies: Designing and Delivering Intensive Interventions--A Teacher's Toolkit," see ED536128.]"
  4. Powell, S. R., Fuchs, L. S. (2015). Intensive intervention in mathematics. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30(4), 182-192.
    From the abstract: "Students who demonstrate persistent mathematics difficulties and whose performance is severely below grade level require "intensive intervention". Intensive intervention is an individualized approach to instruction that is more demanding and concentrated than Tier 2 intervention efforts. We present the elements of intensive intervention that teachers should consider when planning for, implementing, and monitoring intensive intervention in mathematics. Each of these elements is based on evidence from validated interventions. We also highlight strategies for intensifying instruction. We provide two examples of intensive intervention, one of which launches from a Tier 2 intervention platform and the other which is completely generated by a teacher. We conclude with considerations for intensive intervention in mathematics."
  5. Schumacher, R. F., Zumeta E. R., & Arden, S. V. (2017). Examining implementation of intensive intervention in mathematics. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 32(3), 189-199.
    From the abstract: "Promising findings from controlled research studies often fail to be transferred to and implemented in schools successfully. This problem is particularly apparent when considering implementation of evidence-based practices related to complex systems such as response to intervention (RTI) and other multitiered intervention frameworks in mathematics. This article addresses the challenges schools face when implementing intensive intervention in mathematics with a data-based individualization (DBI) framework. Preliminary findings from the first year of a formative evaluation study that addressed school-based implementation of DBI include (a) factors that impacted readiness for DBI, (b) the application of DBI at school sites, and (c) the importance of ongoing coaching and consultation. We then discuss practical implications for schools and districts when planning for intensive intervention in mathematics."
  6. Stevenson, N. A., Reed, & D. K. (2017). To change the things I can: Making instruction more intensive. Intervention in School and Clinic, 53(2), 74-80.
    From the abstract: "When students do not respond adequately to core instruction, teachers must provide instruction and intervention that is more intensive and, therefore, more effective. However, for many educators, it is often unclear what it means to intensify instruction and how intensive instruction differs from high-quality core instruction. This article describes eight empirically supported methods for intensifying instruction for struggling learners along with specific suggestions, examples, and a planning guide for intensive instruction."
  7. Vaughn, S., & Wanzek, J. (2014). Intensive interventions in reading for students with reading disabilities: Meaningful impacts. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 29(2), 46-53.
    From the abstract: "We use three data sources to build a rationale for why intensive interventions are necessary for students with pervasive reading disabilities: current data on the performance of students with disabilities on reading achievement measures over time, observation studies on students with reading disabilities in general and special education classrooms, and findings from intensive intervention studies for students with reading disabilities. Results of these data sources indicate that students with disabilities are not making progress in reading at the same rate as students without disabilities, reading instruction for students with reading disabilities is comprised of excessive amounts of low level tasks, and findings from intensive intervention studies suggest positive impacts for students with reading disabilities. We argue that students with reading disabilities require ongoing intensive interventions that are likely to require schools to change the contexts and practices for these students."
  8. Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Leroux, A., Roberts, G., Denton, C., Barth, A., & Fletcher, J. (2012). Effects of intensive reading intervention for eighth-grade students with persistently inadequate response to intervention. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45(6), 515-525.
    From the abstract: "The authors report the effects of a yearlong, very small-group, intensive reading intervention for eighth-grade students with serious reading difficulties who had demonstrated low response to intervention (RTI) in both Grades 6 and 7. At the beginning of Grade 6, a cohort of students identified as having reading difficulties were randomized to treatment or comparison conditions. Treatment group students received researcher-provided reading intervention in Grade 6, which continued in Grade 7 for those with low response to intervention; comparison students received no researcherprovided intervention. Participants in the Grade 8 study were members of the original treatment (N = 28) and comparison (N = 13) conditions who had failed to pass a statemandated reading comprehension test in both Grades 6 and 7. In Grade 8, treatment group students received a 50-minute, daily, individualized, intensive reading intervention in groups of two to four students per teacher. The results showed that students in the treatment condition demonstrated significantly higher scores than comparison students on standardized measures of comprehension (effect size = 1.20) and word identification (effect size = 0.49), although most continued to lack grade-level proficiency in reading despite 3 years of intervention. Findings from this study provide a rationale for intensive intervention for middle school students with severe reading difficulties. (Contains 4 tables.)"
  9. Wanzek, J., Stevens, E. A., Williams, K. J., Scammacca, N., Vaughn, S., & Sargent, K. (2018). Current evidence on the effects of intensive early reading interventions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 51(6), 612-624.
    From the abstract: "Many students at risk for or identified with reading disabilities need intensive reading interventions. This meta-analysis provides an update to the Wanzek and Vaughn synthesis on intensive early reading interventions. Effects from 25 reading intervention studies are analyzed to examine the overall effect of intensive early reading interventions as well as relationships between intervention and student characteristics related to outcomes. The weighted mean effect size (ES) estimate (ES = 0.39), with a mean effect size adjusted for publication bias (ES = 0.28), both significantly different from zero, suggested intensive early reading interventions resulted in positive outcomes for early struggling readers in kindergarten through third grades. There was no statistically significant or meaningful heterogeneity in the study-wise effect sizes. Exploratory examination of time in intervention, instructional group size, initial reading achievement, and date of publication are provided."

Additional Organizations to Consult

  1. National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) -
    From the website: "NCII builds the capacity of state and local education agencies, universities, practitioners, and other stakeholders to support implementation of intensive intervention in literacy, mathematics, and behavior for students with severe and persistent learning and/or behavioral needs, often in the context of their multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) or special education services. NCII's approach to intensive intervention is data-based individualization (DBI), a research-based process that integrates the systematic use of assessment data, validated interventions, and intensification strategies."


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Intensive acceleration classes
  • Intensive instruction

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.