The study took place in 13 urban public elementary schools.
Full-day kindergarten teachers in 13 urban public elementary schools were asked to identify students who would benefit from intensive additional reading instruction. Of the referred students with parental consent, 99 met eligibility criteria based on scoring below cutoff scores on DIBELS tests. After dropping one student (who was the only student in one classroom to be eligible), the other 98 students who met eligibility standards were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups (one in which tutoring occurred one-on-one, and one in which tutoring occurred in pairs) or to the comparison group using an algorithm that compensated for the fact that students in the pair tutoring group needed to be assigned in pairs within the same classroom. Pretests were given in December and posttests at the end of the school year.
Paraeducators, equipped with 70 scripted lessons with seven to eight activities per lesson, worked with students individually for 30 minutes a day, four days a week, for 18 weeks. Tutoring was conducted during the school day in a quiet nearby school space. Typically, 20 minutes were devoted to phonics and 10 minutes to oral reading practice using Bob Books®, although the tutors were free to adjust this to meet individual student needs. For tutoring in pairs, the same general approach was followed, but two students were tutored at once. If one student was ahead of the other, then the tutor focused on the student who was behind while the other student read silently for part of the time. This review focuses on the combined effect of the two tutoring groups compared to the group that did not receive tutoring. The study does not identify the intervention as Sound Partners, although the developer verified that this study included Sound Partners instruction.
Control group students received a variety of Title I, ESL, and special education services available to all students in the study schools. The control students did not receive supplemental tutoring.
The study addresses the alphabetics domain using a set of standardized tests (DIBELS, Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing [CTOPP], Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, Test of Word Reading Efficiency [TOWRE]), the reading comprehension domain using a standardized test (Woodcock Reading Mastery Test–Revised/Normative Update [WRMT-R/NU] Passage Comprehension subtest), and the reading fluency domain using an author-developed measure that is similar to standardized tests of reading fluency. The study also includes a spelling assessment, but it is not included in this review because it is outside the scope of the Beginning Reading review protocol. For a more detailed description of the included outcome measures, see Appendices A2.1–A2.3.
Support for implementation
Twenty-one paraeducators were hired by schools on the basis of their interest in working with children, prior tutoring experience, and scheduling flexibility. The paraeducators averaged 3.3 years of prior tutoring experience. They were trained in an initial two-hour session. Follow-up training was provided throughout the intervention, along with coaching for paraeducators with less experience and/or low initial intervention fidelity ratings.