The study was conducted in one elementary school in a medium-sized city in the Midwest.
Students in grades 2–4 in the participating school were eligible if they performed below
benchmark on the DIBELS assessment administered at the beginning of the school year. After
obtaining parental consent, students were paired based on pretest scores, grade, race, and
gender, and then randomly assigned to either the Read Naturally® group or the comparison
group. The analysis sample included 82 students: 39 in the Read Naturally® group and 43 in
the comparison group. Across the three grades, the study included 23 second graders, 26
third graders, and 33 fourth graders. Fifty-seven percent of the students were male; 68% were
African American, 27% were White, and 5% were of mixed race. Sixty-two percent of students
were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The study did not specify the number of classrooms
included in the analysis.
Intervention students used Read Naturally® Software Edition for 30–45 minutes each day,
5 days a week, for 8 weeks. All Read Naturally® sessions were conducted by graduate or
undergraduate research assistants. Students first selected one of 12 stories at their reading
level, and then read along to key words by clicking on the words and hearing the computer
pronounce the word and read its definition. Students then wrote a prediction of what would
happen in the story based on the picture, key words, and title of the story. Students then completed
a 1-minute reading of the passage, observed by a research assistant or the author, who
noted words that the student found difficult. They then practiced the passage while listening to
a recording of it being read, and then practiced it independently. To pass a story, the student
needed to read a specified number of words during the 1-minute period, make no more than
three errors, read with good expression, and answer all of the questions correctly. This was
done out loud in the presence of a research assistant or the author. After passing, they then
moved on to the next story. On some occasions, Read Naturally® was used in place of the
student’s normal language arts instruction, at the discretion of the teacher.
Comparison group students received the normal reading instruction used in their classroom.
Some comparison group students were exposed to Read Naturally® during the study period
if their teachers thought it was appropriate. However, comparison group students used Read
Naturally® an average of less than 2 minutes per week, compared with an average of 72 minutes
per week for students in the Read Naturally® condition. The Read Naturally® intervention was
available to comparison group students after the intervention students finished the program.
Eligible outcomes included the DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency subtest; the EVT, First Edition; the
PPVT-III; and three subtests from the WJ-III Cognitive and Achievement batteries: Letter-Word
Identification, Passage Comprehension, and Word Attack, as well as a composite score combining
these three subtests. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see
Appendix B. Findings for the composite WJ-III measure can be found in Appendix C.4. Three
subtest findings from the WJ-III test can be found in Appendices D.1 and D.2.
Support for implementation
The study did not describe any provider training or support for implementation.