The study took place in one suburban district in a metropolitan area in the Midwest.
Twelve first grade teachers from two schools were randomly assigned either to the intervention or to a control group (six teachers were assigned to EIR® and six teachers were assigned to the comparison group). In each classroom, five or six of the lowest-scoring students participated in the study. Students were identified initially by teacher recommendations based on reading test scores and confirmed through testing by study assistants using knowledge of consonant sounds; reading of sight words on the Dolch preprimer list; and the Burns-Roe Informal Reading Inventory, an auditory phonemic segmentation and blending test. Thirty-one low-achieving students from six EIR®
classes and 28 students from six comparison classes participated in the study (there were five or six students in each class, but only three low-achieving students in one of the comparison classrooms). The district reports 20% of students receive free or reduced price lunch and 10% are minority students, but no specific demographic information was given about the study participants. Twenty-nine of the original 31 students in the treatment group remained throughout the study. All of the 28 comparison group students remained in the study.
The program involved pulling aside the lowest-achieving students in each class to work as a group with the teacher. The program was implemented in three-day cycles from October to April of the school year. On day one, the teacher read a picture book (this part of the intervention occurred with the entire class). The teacher then taught the intervention students to segment words and blend phonemes into words. On days two and three, the intervention students read a story summary with minimal assistance. They also wrote one sentence a day that was related to the story with the teacher’s help. In addition to the 15–20 minutes that students worked with teachers each day, children worked individually (for 5 minutes) or in pairs (for 10 minutes) with a trained aide or project assistant. Running records were taken by the teacher or aide weekly to assess
students’ progress. In this study, the project assistants, who were graduate students from a local university, spent time listening to intervention students read individually and provided teachers with feedback on the program.
Students in the comparison classes participated in their regular reading instruction, supplemented with additional instruction from teachers and reading specialists. Some students received 30-minute pull-out sessions, whereas others were aided by special reading teachers within their own classes.
For both pre- and posttests, the authors administered a vowel sounds test, a test of segmentation and blending, and the Gates-MacGinitie reading test. Two additional tests, the Burns-Roe Informal Reading Inventory and the percentage of children reading a 150-word selection at the first grade level, were used in the study but have not been included in this review. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendices A2.1–2.2.
Support for implementation
Intervention teachers attended an all-day workshop the summer before implementation. Three afternoon meetings were also held to support implementation. Project assistants
(graduate students) observed and assisted (listening to program students read aloud) in intervention classes. These assistants were in program classes about
90 minutes per week. Assistants gave feedback and suggestions for improvement to program teachers.