WWC review of this study

Scaling up the Success for All model of school reform: Final report from the Investing in Innovation (i3) evaluation.

Quint, J., Zhu, P., Balu, R., Rappaport, S., & DeLaurentis, M. (2015). New York, NY: MDRC.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    37
     Schools
    , grades
    K-4
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: March 2017

Alphabetics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Word Attack subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
2,907 students

15.52

14.37

Yes

 
 
7
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
2,902 students

40

39.18

No

--

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
2,873 students

46.96

46.15

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Word Attack subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
2,962 students

12.36

10.51

Yes

 
 
12

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Word Attack subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
2,893 students

5.74

5.21

No

--

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
2,802 students

29.49

28.73

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
2,952 students

30.34

29.8

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
2,893 students

19.67

19.74

No

--
Comprehension outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Passage Comprehension subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
2,894 students

21.03

20.88

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Passage Comprehension subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
2,957 students

14.69

14.57

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 57% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 48%
    Male: 52%
  • Race
    Black
    23%
    Not specified
    64%
    White
    14%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    62%
    Not Hispanic
    38%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
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    • n
    • o
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    • q
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    • s
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    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Northeast, South, West

Setting

The study took place in five districts in four states in the western, southern, and northeastern United States. Most districts were located in mid-size to large cities.

Study sample

The study used a cluster randomized controlled trial design. Thirty-seven schools that met the study eligibility criteria were randomly assigned to intervention or comparison groups in spring 2011 after blocking by school district. To be eligible to participate in the study, schools were required to serve grades K–5, have at least 40% of their students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and be willing to participate in the study and support program implementation. The program was implemented for all students in the schools starting in fall 2011. The authors used three samples to evaluate the effectiveness of SFA®, which they refer to as the main sample, the spring sample, and the auxiliary sample. The main sample focused on students who were present in schools at the time of baseline and outcome assessments. The spring sample included all students who had at least one valid score on the end-of-year outcomes. The auxiliary sample consisted of students who were present in grades 3, 4, or 5 in the study schools during program implementation years. All three samples may include students who moved into the study schools after random assignment. For the effectiveness ratings, the WWC focused on third-year findings from the sample of students who had at least one valid score on the end-of-year outcomes (referred to as the spring sample in the study). The third-year analyses focused on second-grade students who were in kindergarten when implementation began. This cohort included 1,557 students in 19 SFA® schools and 1,350 students in 18 comparison schools. Across all study schools, 57% of the population received free or reduced-price lunch, 62% of students were Hispanic, 23% were Black, and 14% were White. Males made up 52% of the overall school sample.

Intervention Group

Intervention students received features of the full SFA® program, including the SFA® reading curriculum that is the focus of this intervention report, tutoring for students in grades 1–3, a facilitator who worked with school personnel, and training for all intervention teachers. Some other features of the full SFA® program, such as regular tutoring for struggling students, periodic testing and regrouping, and support for families, were not provided to all students in all schools. The study relied on local district coaches rather than coaches employed by SFA®. The SFA® model calls for a 90-minute reading block each day, and most schools adhered to this. Schools began using the program for the first time at the beginning of the first study year, and in general improved their implementation over the course of the study based on the authors’ monitoring.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition included schools that implemented standard reading programs from publishers such as Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Scott Foresman. During the 3-year study period, most comparison schools continued to use the same curriculum, while others switched from one common program to another.

Support for implementation

Each school implementing SFA® appointed a facilitator who oversaw the implementation of the program. Principals and other school leaders attended a week-long conference the summer before implementation, in which they were introduced to the various parts of the programs. SFA® coordinators visited the schools for 4 days before the beginning of the school year. One day of programming focused on principals and school leaders, the second day on all teachers, and the third and fourth days on reading teachers. During the school year, SFA® coaches visited the schools implementing the program to provide additional support. This was focused primarily on assisting principals and other leaders in implementing program features, but also included classroom visits and feedback on lessons.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Quint, J., Zhu, P., Doolittle, F., & Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. (2012). Understanding variation in implementation of SFA in the i3 Scale-Up project. Washington, DC: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness.

  • Quint, J. C., Balu, R., DeLaurentis, M., Rappaport S., Smith, T. J., & Zhu, P. (2013). The Success for All model of school reform: Early findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-Up. New York, NY: MDRC.

  • Quint, J. C., Balu, R., DeLaurentis, M., Rappaport, S., Smith, T. J., & Zhu, P. (2014). The Success for All model of school reform: Interim findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-Up. New York, NY: MDRC.

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: January 2017

Alphabetics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock Johnson (WJ): Word Attack subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,635 students

16.41

15.39

Yes

 
 
6
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson (WJ): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,631 students

41.19

40.56

No

--
Comprehension outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III): Passage Comprehension subtest

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Full sample;
1,625 students

21.58

21.44

No

--
Reading fluency outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE-2)

Success for All® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
1,625 students

49.45

48.34

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 24% English language learners

  • Female: 51%
    Male: 49%
  • Race
    Asian
    2%
    Black
    18%
    White
    12%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    66%
    Not Hispanic
    34%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Northeast, South, West

Setting

The study sample consisted of schools from five school districts in four states. The assignment sample included 37 K-5 schools, 19 of which were randomly assigned to the intervention group and 18 of which were randomly assigned to the comparison group. The primary student sample included 854 students in the intervention group and 781 students in the comparison group. This study included schools in the West, Northeast, and South regions of the United States.

Study sample

In the intervention group: 87.5% students in poverty; 12.4% White; 18.9% Black, 65.8% Hispanic; 1.3% Asian; 1.6% Other; 49% male; 26.4% ELL; and 5.9% special education. In the comparison group: 88.5% students in poverty; 12.6% White; 17.8% Black, 66.9% Hispanic; .09% Asian; 1.4% Other; 48.9% male; 20.6% ELL; and 6.4% special education. The average age of students in the intervention and comparison groups at the beginning of the study was 5.5 years.

Intervention Group

Success for All has three levels: The KinderCorner for kindergarten; Reading Roots for beginning readers, typically first graders; and Reading Wings, typically for second graders and up. The Success for All model includes a full-time facilitator at the school level and requires principal involvement. The program developer provides training, coaching, a structured curriculum emphasizing phonics and comprehension, data tracking, and a computerized tutoring system. The program elements include: 1) structured reading instruction in a 90 minute block, 2) small class size, 3) cross-grade grouping by reading level, 4) cooperative learning and celebrations of student gains in small groups, classes, and schools; 5) rapid instructional pacing, 6) tutoring and support interventions for struggling readers; 7) use of engaging instructional media and frequent student assessments of student learning. In the intervention group, the average length of the reading block was 88.6 minutes. The average class size in reading was 18.7. In the intervention group, 61.5% of principals reported that "students in the same reading class are divided into smaller groups." All principals in the intervention group reported that "students in the same grade are grouped into different reading classes by ability level," and "students who are in different grades, but at the same ability level, are sometimes grouped together in the same reading class." In the intervention group, 99% of teachers reported students work in pairs or small groups, almost daily.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition schools constituted a "business as usual" condition.

Support for implementation

The Success for All model includes a full-time facilitator at the school level and requires principal involvement. The program developer provides training, coaching, a structured curriculum emphasizing phonics and comprehension, data tracking, and a computerized tutoring system. School strategies to address non-instructional issues that affect learning included solutions teams and an emphasis on continuous improvement. School staff received initial training by the SFA foundation, and then received ongoing professional development throughout the year. Coaches visited classrooms to observe, then met with the principal. The coaches supported the principal and facilitator to use data. Appendix E details the cost analysis, which showed that the cost per year is higher during the first two years of the program and tapers after that. Based on an analysis of District D, SFA per-student costs were about $192 higher than comparison group reading program, per student in year 3. See the report for extensive detail on cost analysis.

 

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