The study was conducted in three schools in a suburban district in the southeastern United
The sample for this study included a total of 30 students from grades 2–4 taught by three
teachers in three elementary schools. All students in the study had been identified by school
district staff as needing special education services. The study occurred over 2 years—one
school participated in both years, the second school participated in the first year, and the
third school participated in the second year. Prior to the start of the study, two groups of
three to five students had been formed in each school. Within schools, the student groups
were randomly assigned to receive either Reading Mastery Fast Cycle or Horizons Fast Track,
resulting in 15 students receiving each intervention. In total, there were 15 students identified
as learning disabled—ten in the study group and five in the comparison group. The remaining
15 students had other disabilities, such as behavioral/emotional disabilities or other health
impairments. At each school, one teacher delivered both the Reading Mastery Fast Cycle and
Horizons Fast Track interventions. The authors reported no group or student attrition.
Reading Mastery Fast Cycle is a version of Reading Mastery that teaches at a faster rate with
less repetition than conventional Reading Mastery. In the present study, Reading Mastery Fast
Cycle was implemented in 30- to 40-minute sessions, 5 days a week, over 1 school year.
Horizons Fast Track shares the same developer and many program characteristics with Reading
Mastery Fast Cycle and was developed in response to feedback on Reading Mastery. The
two programs differ in sequence, procedures, prompts, orthographic conventions, and teacher
presentation materials. For example, Reading Mastery Fast Cycle teaches letter sounds before
letter names, whereas Horizons Fast Track requires students to use letter names as assistance
in learning letter sounds. Reading Mastery Fast Cycle does not use capital letters early in the
program; Horizons Fast Track includes the use of capital letters in the first lessons that present
sentences. Finally, Reading Mastery Fast Cycle uses special forms of letters to elicit the
correct sounds for confusing letters, letter combinations, or silent letters; Horizons Fast Track
uses underlining and color changes. Teachers implemented Horizons Fast Track in 30- to
40-minute sessions, 5 days a week over the year, following the scripted procedure and repeating
lessons when necessary.
The study authors administered several reading measures at pretest and posttest. Alphabetics
was measured by the Letter-Word Identification and Word Attack subtests of the WoodcockJohnson
Psycho-Educational Battery–Revised (WJ-R) and the North Carolina Literacy Assessment. Reading comprehension was measured by the Passage Comprehension subtest of the WJ-R. The authors combined Letter-Word Identification and Passage Comprehension to form a Broad Reading Score and combined Letter-Word Identification and Word Attack to form a Basic Reading Score. These combined measures were not examined in the WWC analysis. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
Prior to starting the study, teachers had been trained in Reading Mastery Fast Cycle by SRA/
McGraw-Hill (and had 4 years experience with the program). Teachers were trained to implement
Horizons Fast Track by SRA/McGraw-Hill prior to the start of the school year.