WWC review of this study

Classroom instruction, child X instruction interactions and the impact of differentiating student instruction on third graders’ reading comprehension.

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Fishman, B., Giuliani, S., Luck, M., Underwood, P., ... Schatschneider, C. (2011). Reading Research Quarterly, 46(3), 189–221.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: December 2016

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Comprehension outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests (GMRT): Total

Individualized Student Instruction (ISI) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
448 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.

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


The study took place in seven schools in the southeastern United States. These schools were located in suburban, urban, and rural communities. The schools varied in their percentages of students qualifying for free/reduced priced lunches, with ranges from 92% to only 4%. There were 33 teachers with 448 students in the total sample.

Study sample

The total sample included third grade students who were 36% White, 51% Black, 3% Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 3% multiracial. The report states that there were no differences in the racial composition or percentage of students qualifying for free/reduced priced lunch between the intervention and comparison groups. The gender mix of the sample was not reported.

Intervention Group

The Individualized Student Intervention involved differentiated reading instruction for students that was delivered in small groups. The teachers worked with small groups using flexible learning strategies that were selected based on the students' reading skills. Other students in the classroom worked on other projects when not working in the small groups. Teachers in the intervention group were specifically instructed to provide instruction to students based on their individual skill levels. This intervention was part of the regular 90-minute block of time dedicated to literacy instruction. The teachers used the Open Court Reading curriculum during instruction.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was implemented during the regular 90-minute block dedicated to literacy instruction; these teachers also used the Open Court Reading curriculum. In addition, the comparison teachers implemented an alternative vocabulary intervention that focused on building students' comprehension skills by helping the teachers use an adaptation of a teacher study group model. Teachers in the comparison group were not instructed to use differentiated instruction; however, they could if they wanted to.

Support for implementation

No support for implementation was reported.


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