The analysis sample included seven school units in the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU), outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The AIU consisted of 42 school districts.
The study design was based on random assignment of 32 school units, formed from a pool of 52 schools, to one of four interventions (Corrective Reading, Kaplan SpellRead, Failure Free Reading, and Wilson Reading). Within each school, students were randomly assigned to the treatment group that would receive the intervention assigned to its school or to the control group that would receive the standard reading curriculum. This report focuses on schools assigned to Corrective Reading and on findings for 5th graders (as specified by the Adolescent Literacy review protocol). At the time of the analysis, the sample relevant to this review included 86 fifth-grade students (55 in Corrective Reading and 31 in the control group) in seven school units. The number of 5th-grade students at baseline was not reported. Students were eligible for participation if their teacher identified them as a struggling reader and if they scored at or below the 30th percentile on a word-level reading test and at or above the 5th percentile on a vocabulary test. On average, at baseline, students scored about one-half to one standard deviation below national norms on measures used to assess their ability to decode words. About 51% of the intervention group students were females, compared to 36% in the control group. About 41% of the intervention group students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch programs, equal to 41% of the students in the control group.
The decoding component of Corrective Reading was implemented by nine teachers beginning in the first week in November 2003 through the first week in May 2004. The comprehension component was not implemented. The intervention was administered to students in groups of three that were heterogeneous with regard to students’ basic reading skills. The average skills of the students in each of the instructional groups determined the pace of instruction. Implementation fidelity was determined by reading program trainers who observed the teachers and coached them over a period of months, project coordinators who observed a sample of instructional sessions, and ratings based on a sample of videotaped sessions. Implementation was rated as acceptable. The decoding component used in the study included four levels—A, B1, B2, and C. Placement testing was used to start each group at the appropriate level. The lessons provided during the study clustered in levels B1 and B2. For those groups that progressed to level C, explicit vocabulary instruction was not provided. Over a six-month period, students received a total of about 90 hours of instruction. Students received Corrective Reading instruction five days a week in sessions that were approximately 55 minutes long. The study reported student outcomes after six months of program implementation. Additional findings reflecting students’ outcomes one year after the end of the implementation of the intervention can be found in Appendices A4.1–A4.3.
The control group students received their regular reading instruction, which included typical classroom instruction and, in many cases, other services (such as another pull-out program). Across four interventions, the control group students had fewer small-group instructional hours and average weekly hours of total reading instruction than the intervention group students.
The primary outcome measures in the alphabetics domain were the Word Identification and Word Attack subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test–Revised (WRMT-R) and the Phonetic Decoding Efficiency and Sight Word Efficiency subtests of the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE). The primary measure in the reading fluency domain was the Oral Reading Fluency test (also referred to as AIMSweb). The primary measures in the comprehension domain were the WRMT-R: Comprehension subtest and the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE): Passage Comprehension subtest. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendices A2.1–A2.3.
Support for implementation
Professional development on how to use Corrective Reading included training and coaching by Corrective Reading program staff, teachers’ independent study of program materials, and telephone conferences between teachers and Corrective Reading staff. On average, throughout the course of the study, the Corrective Reading intervention group teachers participated in 70.8 professional development hours specifically related to using Corrective Reading (32.8 hours were initial training in use of the program, 26.4 hours were spent in a practice phase, and 11.6 hours occurred during the six-month period in which teachers were using Corrective Reading).