The study was conducted with students with learning disabilities from three public elementary schools in Florida. Students were between eight and ten years of age and enrolled in the 4th grade.
The sample for this study included a total of 60 students between eight and ten years of age. All participants had been identified by school staff as having learning disabilities based on a discrepancy of at least one standard deviation between their scores on a standardized test of reading and their full-scale score on an intelligence test. Each year for three years, the researchers worked with staff from the three elementary schools to select a sample of students with learning disabilities (20 students per year) who met the following criteria: (1) they were identified by their teachers as having serious difficulty in acquiring word-level reading skills, (2) their average standard score on two measures of word-level reading was at least 1.5 standard deviations below average, (3) their estimated verbal intelligence was above 75, and (4) they performed below minimum required levels for their grade on a measure of phonological awareness. The 60 children eligible for the study were randomly assigned to one of two groups (30 per group): LiPS® or Embedded Phonics (an instructional program developed by the authors). The interventions were provided to students in two eight-week phases: an intensive phase and an application/generalization phase. Pretest data were collected two to three weeks prior to the start of the interventions, posttest data were collected two to three weeks after completion of the eight-week intensive intervention period, and follow-up data were collected one year and two years following the posttest. Ten children were not
available for second year follow-up data collection, leaving 50 students in the analysis sample—26 students that received LiPS® and 24 students that received Embedded Phonics. Children in the study had the following characteristics: all were 4th graders, 72% were male, 65% were Caucasian and 35% were African-American, and the average full-scale IQ for students in the study was about 96. Additional findings reflecting students’ outcomes at the first and second year follow-ups can be found in Appendices A4.1–4.10.
This study involved a comparison of the effectiveness of two interventions: (1) LiPS® and (2) Embedded Phonics. Both of the interventions provided explicit instruction in word-level reading skills; they differed in method of teaching and in relative amount of time spent on instructional activities. LiPS® was provided to students in two phases. In the first phase of the intervention, intensive instruction was delivered on a 1:1 basis for two 50-minute sessions, five days a week, for eight weeks, until a total of 67.5 hours of instruction had been provided. During this time of intensive instruction, LiPS® substituted for time the students would normally have spent in their learning disability resource room. In the second, less intensive phase of LiPS®, students received one 50-minute lesson per week for eight additional weeks in their learning disability resource
room, applying skills they had learned during the intensive phase to regular classroom materials. LiPS® placed primary emphasis on building skills in phonemic awareness and phonemic decoding with individual words. LiPS® has three goals: (1) to provide a basis for accurate discriminations among phonemes by teaching the distinctive kinesthetic, auditory, and visual (mouth form pictures) features associated with all the common phonemes of the English language; kinesthetic and visual features are taught to help make the phoneme more concrete, and to allow children to both hear and feel phonemic contrasts and identities in spoken patterns; (2) to teach children to use their knowledge of the distinctive features of phonemes to monitor and represent sequences of sounds in spoken syllables; and (3) to use problem-solving activities to teach children selfmonitoring
Students in the comparison group participated in a competing intervention, developed by the study authors, called Embedded Phonics. This intervention was delivered for the same amount of time as LiPS® and also taught phonemic awareness and phonemic decoding. However, the Embedded Phonics instruction emphasized application through reading meaningful text and recognizing, practicing, and spelling high-frequency sight words.
The authors assessed students with a battery of tests at the pretest, posttest, one-year follow-up, and two-year follow-up time points. In the domain of alphabetics, phonological
awareness was measured by administration of the Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test and the Elision subtest, the Non-word Repetition subtest, and the Rapid
Letter Naming subtest from the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processes (CTOPP); word attack was measured by administration of the Word Attack subtest of the
Woodcock Reading Mastery Test–Revised (WRMT–R) and the Phonemic Decoding and Sight Word Efficiency subtests of the Test of the Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE);
and letter-word identification was measured by administration of the Word Identification subtest of the WRMT–R. The domain of reading fluency was measured by administration
of the Reading Accuracy and Reading Rate subtests of the Gray Oral Reading Test–III (GORT–III). The domain of reading comprehension was measured by administration
of the Passage Comprehension subtest of the WRMT–R and the Reading Comprehension subtest of the GORT–III. The domain of writing was measured by administration of
the Spelling subtest of the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement. The domain of math was measured by administration of the Calculation subtest from the WoodcockJohnson
Psycho-Educational Battery–Revised (WJ–R). Other outcomes were reported in the study but were not included in this report because they were outside the scope of
the Students with Learning Disabilities review. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendices A2.1–2.5.
Support for implementation
The teachers who administered each program all had at least one year’s experience teaching children with reading disabilities using that method or one very similar to it. The
teachers who taught LiPS® were all drawn from those working at a clinic where the program had been used for the previous five years.