The study was conducted in 10 school districts across nine states in the United States.
Across the 17 high schools and both student cohorts, the analytic sample for comprehension outcomes included 2,329 ninth-grade students. The analytic sample for general literacy achievement included 1,191 of these students for whom scores on the English language arts state assessment were obtainable from school administrative records.
Of the 2,329 students in the analytic sample for comprehension outcomes, 50% spoke another language besides English at home: 44% were African American, 17% were White, 6% were another race, and 33% identified as Hispanic; and 51% were male. Similar information about the composition of the analytic sample for the general literacy achievement domain was not available.
Xtreme Reading is a supplemental literacy curriculum designed to improve the literacy skills of struggling students in grades 6 to 12. The curriculum is primarily designed to help students improve their vocabulary, decoding, fluency, and reading comprehension skills. The Xtreme Reading program was implemented as a yearlong supplemental course in place of a ninth-grade elective class and was offered in addition to students’ regular English language arts classes. The program was scheduled for a minimum of 225 minutes of classroom instruction per week via a 45-minute class every day or a 75- to 90-minute class meeting every other day. Within each participating high school, an experienced, full-time English language arts or social studies teacher volunteered and was subsequently trained to implement the Xtreme Reading program to both student cohorts in the study. This teacher then taught four Xtreme Reading classes with 12 to 15 students per class.
Students in the comparison group received the standard English language arts instruction and continued their participation in a regularly scheduled elective class, such as career and technical education, art, physical education, health, or foreign language. They did not receive supplemental English language arts instruction.
Support for implementation
Within each high school assigned to Xtreme Reading, an experienced, full-time English language arts or social studies teacher volunteered to teach the program to both student cohorts. For the first year of the study, the 17 Xtreme Reading teachers received one 5-day summer training before the start of the study year, one 2-day booster training during the year, and three 2-day on-site coaching visits. Of the 17 teachers who volunteered to administer the Xtreme Reading program at the start of the first study year, seven were replaced by the end of the first year. For the second year of the study, newly recruited Xtreme Reading teachers attended a 2-day training immediately prior to a 3-day training for all Xtreme Reading teachers during the summer before the start of the 2006–07 school year. All Xtreme Reading teachers also received a 2-day booster training and three 2-day on-site coaching visits during the second study year. No Xtreme Reading teachers were replaced during the second study year. In both study years, district coordinators were invited to observe the trainings to become familiar with the program in case they had to provide technical assistance or other support to Xtreme Reading teachers during the study period.