Effectiveness of Selected Supplemental Reading Comprehension Interventions: Findings from Two Student Cohorts
Results after two years of using three reading comprehension curricula show gains from one program and no effects for the other two on reading comprehension for fifth-graders, according to a study released by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance in the Institute of Education Sciences. The study focused on whether 5th grade students in disadvantaged schools could be helped in making the transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn" by bolstering the vocabulary and comprehension skills that allow them to organize and acquire knowledge from text.
Three commercially available supplemental reading comprehension curricula were used for a second year by school and teachers to teach explicit reading comprehension strategies—ReadAbout, Read for Real, and Project CRISS. The study included 182 teachers and 61 schools in 10 districts, with study schools within each district assigned by lottery to use one of the curricula or serve as a control group.
No positive impacts of the curricula on student reading comprehension were found in the study's first year. Key findings after two years of using the curricula include:
- There was a positive, statistically significant impact of ReadAbout on social studies reading comprehension when teachers used it for a second year. The effect size was .22, which amounts to moving from the 50th percentile to the 59th percentile. This reading program teaches students comprehension skills—such as author's purpose, main idea, cause and effect, compare and contrast, summarizing and inferences—using a computer program that adapts to each student's reading level. The program also allowed for easier integration of small-group instruction and provided immediate feedback to students.
- The impacts on fifth-grade reading comprehension were not statistically significantly different from zero for the other two other curricula, Read for Real and Project CRISS, when used by schools for a second year. (A fourth curriculum, Reading for Knowledge, was studied in the first year but was not included in the second cohort).
- Two of three teacher practices—classroom management and explicit reading strategy guidance—were positively correlated with improvements in student reading comprehension. The explicit guidance had teachers explaining text structure and modeling comprehension strategies as students practiced those strategies.
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