WWC review of this study

The effects of Read Naturally on fluency and reading comprehension: A supplemental service intervention (four-school study) [Read Naturally vs. business as usual]

Heistad, D. (2008). [Unpublished manuscript]

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grades

Reviewed: March 2013

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Literacy achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Northwest Achievement Levels Test (NALT): Reading

Read Naturally® vs. Business as usual

Posttest, Spring 2004

Grades 3-5;
156 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 35% English language learners

  • 65% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 44%
    Male: 56%
  • Race
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    Not Hispanic

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The study took place in the Minneapolis Public School district, in schools that were not on the No Child Left Behind list of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress in 2003.

Study sample

Read Naturally® was implemented with students in grades 3–5 in four elementary schools in the Minneapolis Public School district. Comparison group students were drawn from the same grade in the same school district. The author does not specify the number of schools attended by comparison group students. Students were selected for the Read Naturally® intervention based on parent and teacher recommendations and, according to the author, were generally not considered to be “on course” for proficiency on the state assessments administered in the spring of grades 3–5. The analysis sample included 156 students in grades 3–5 (78 in Read Naturally® and 78 in the comparison group); 46 in grade 3, 66 in grade 4, and 44 in grade 5. The demographic characteristics of the Read Naturally® students were: 56% male, 12% classified as special education, 35% classified as English language learners (ELL), and 65% receiving free or reduced-price lunch. With respect to race and ethnicity, 39% of the intervention group students were Hispanic, 35% were African American, 22% were White, and 4% were Native American. No similar demographic information for the comparison sample was presented in the study.

Intervention Group

Two schools used the Read Naturally® Masters version that employed audio cassettes and hard-copy reading materials, while two schools used the Read Naturally® Software Edition. Two schools implemented Read Naturally® as a pull-out intervention during the school day, while two schools used it as part of an after-school program. No further information was provided in the study regarding the intervention condition.

Comparison Group

The study author created a matched comparison group from within the Minneapolis Public School district using students that were not receiving the Read Naturally® program. Students were first matched by a pretest score on the Northwest Achievement Levels Test (NALT)– Reading measure, followed by the following demographic factors: grade, ELL status, special education status, free or reduced-price lunch status, race/ethnicity, home language, and gender. Read Naturally® students were only matched to other students attending schools classified with the same AYP status as their own school.

Outcome descriptions

The study included one eligible outcome measure, the reading portion of the NALT, a statebased adaptive assessment. The NALT is administered in the spring, with prior year’s NALT scores used as a pretest measure in the study. For a more detailed description of this outcome measure, see Appendix B. The reading portion of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) was also administered to the subsample of 88 students in grades 3 and 5 at posttest in the spring of 2004. However, the results for the subsample of students using this outcome measure are not included in this review because baseline equivalence for the analysis sample was not established.

Support for implementation

One teacher in each intervention group school was trained in Read Naturally® procedures by a Read Naturally® instructor. Training included: initial assessment of student level of instruction using curriculum-based measurement procedures, placement procedures, use of comprehension assessments and strategies, student goal setting, and progress monitoring procedures.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Heistad, D. (2008c). The effects of Read Naturally on grade 3 reading. (Unpublished manuscript).

  • Read Naturally. (n.d.). Case 3: Third-grade students, Minneapolis, MN. Read Naturally, Inc. Retrieved November 5, 2009, from http://www.readnaturally.com/approach/case3.htm.

  • Heistad, D. (2008b). The effects of Read Naturally on fluency and reading comprehension: A supplemental service intervention (two-school study). (Unpublished manuscript).

  • Read Naturally. (n.d.). Case 7: Two-school study, Minneapolis, MN. St. Paul, MN: Author. Retrieved from http://www.readnaturally.com

  • Read Naturally. (n.d.). Case 4: Four-school study, Minneapolis, MN. St. Paul, MN: Author. Retrieved from http://www.readnaturally.com


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