WWC review of this study

Springfield-Chicopee School Districts Striving Readers (SR) program final report Years 1–5: Evaluation of implementation and impact. [Xtreme Reading vs. business as usual]

Sprague, K., Zaller, C., Kite, A., & Hussar, K. (2012). Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED600926

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    448
     Students
    , grade
    9

Reviewed: November 2021

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Measures of general reading proficiency and English Language Arts outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, Edition 4 (SDRT-4)

Xtreme Reading vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample- Xtreme Reading intervention vs. business as usual comparison;
448 students

21.95

21.75

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, Edition 4 (SDRT-4)

Xtreme Reading vs. READ 180®

0 Months

Full sample- Xtreme Reading intervention v. READ 180 comparison;
454 students

21.95

34.20

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 4% English language learners

  • Female: 55%
    Male: 45%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
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    • E
    • F
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    • X
    • Z
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    • a
    • h
    • i
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    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts
  • Race
    Other or unknown
    75%
    White
    25%

Setting

The study was conducted in two school districts, Chicopee and Springfield, in western Massachusetts. A total of five schools implemented the intervention, with three schools implementing in the Springfield School District and two schools implementing in the Chicopee School District.

Study sample

In each of the 5 study years, students in five study schools were screened prior to random assignment. Students at least two—but less than four—grade levels behind in reading performance were selected to participate. Students were excluded from the sample if (a) they had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that specified reading supports not compatible with Xtreme Reading, (b) they lacked sufficient English language proficiency, (c) their parents opted out of the study, (d) they were enrolled in an off-campus evening school, (e) they were deemed not to be a “struggling reader” based on grade history and MCAS scores, or (f) they could not be located in school enrollment records. In the contrast of interest in this review (namely Xtreme Reading intervention group vs. business-as-usual comparison group), there were 679 9th grade students. Among the intervention group, 22% of students were White, 57% were female, 24% were special education students, and 4% were English learners. A majority of students (76%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Among the comparison group, 21% of students were White, 53% were female, 19% were special education students, and 4% were English learners. A majority of students (74%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Intervention Group

The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. Xtreme Reading is an intervention for struggling readers that uses a meta-cognitive approach and focuses on explicit strategy instruction. The intervention was implemented across 5 years as an "add-on" or supplemental intervention. The approach to instruction involves intensive lessons in which students have numerous opportunities to practice targeted learning strategies. Xtreme Reading relies on whole-group and teacher-directed instruction, teacher modeling, guided activities, and paired and independent work. Class size was set at 15 students. Dosage was set to 45 minutes per day, sometimes within a 90-minute block of English language arts (ELA) courses. Some barriers prevented students from receiving the full 45 minutes of the Xtreme Reading instruction in some cases, including (a) a lack of buy-in or satisfaction from teachers with the program, (b) issues with classroom management and student engagement with the material, and (c) attendance issues and other school requirements, like testing.

Comparison Group

Students in the primary comparison condition received the standard ELA course (as did students in the intervention condition), as well as supplemental services ordinarily available to all students. In practice, comparison group students had minimal access to supplemental services.

Support for implementation

For Xtreme Reading, developers train teachers on "learning strategies" for students. The professional development model includes initial training, ongoing in-class mentoring by providers, and workshops on specific routines. Teachers received 3 days of summer training in year 1, which was shortened to 2 days in year 2. Administrators held a 1-day summer meeting to support teachers in year 1 only. Developers provided in-class mentoring monthly during the school year (8 times in year 1 and 9 times in year 2). Teachers also attended 4 full days of additional workshops in year 1 and 5 days in year 2. Teachers received a reading library, lists of supplements, a curriculum including teacher/student notebooks, lesson plans for the curriculum, assessments, and measures of fidelity.

Reviewed: February 2021

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Literacy Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

Xtreme Reading vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample- Xtreme Reading intervention vs. business as usual comparison;
448 students

21.95

21.75

No

--
More Outcomes

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

Xtreme Reading vs. READ 180®

0 Months

Full sample- Xtreme Reading intervention vs. READ 180 comparison;
454 students

21.95

24.14

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 4% English language learners

  • Female: 57%
    Male: 43%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts
  • Race
    Other or unknown
    74%
    White
    26%

Setting

The study was conducted in five schools within two school districts, Chicopee and Springfield, in western Massachusetts.

Study sample

Across the 5 study years, the analytic samples for the three study conditions —Xtreme Reading, READ 180®, and business-as-usual condition—included 223, 231 and 225 ninth-grade students, respectively, with reading proficiencies 2 to 4 years below the ninth-grade level. Of the 679 students in the analytic sample, 73% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, 26% were White, and 20% were in special education. A small percentage (4%) of the students were English learners, and more than half (57%) were female.

Intervention Group

Xtreme Reading is a supplemental literacy curriculum designed to improve the literacy skills of struggling students in grades 6 to 12. The curriculum is primarily designed to help students improve their vocabulary, decoding, fluency, and reading comprehension skills. The Xtreme Reading program was offered to students as a supplement to their standard English language arts course. Class size was capped at 15 students, and the class was taught by the teacher randomly assigned to administer the Xtreme Reading program in each study school in each of the 5 study years. The class took place for 45 minutes per day, sometimes within a 90-minute block of English language arts courses.

Comparison Group

Students in the business-as-usual comparison condition received the standard English language arts instruction provided in the regular school curriculum and continued their participation in any regularly scheduled elective class, such as career and technical education, art, physical education, health, or foreign language. They did not receive supplemental English language arts instruction. Students in the READ 180® condition received the READ 180® curriculum as a supplement to the standard English language arts course. The class was taught by the teacher randomly assigned to administer the Read 180® curriculum in each study school in each of the 5 study years. The class took place for 90 minutes per day, paced to complete the Read 180® curriculum over 125 to 145 school days.

Support for implementation

The developers of the Xtreme Reading program trained teachers on learning strategies for students. The professional development model included initial training, ongoing in-class mentoring by developers, and workshops on specific routines. The professional development varied across study years. Teachers received 3 days of summer training in the first study year, which was shortened to 2 days in the second study year. Administrators held a 1-day summer meeting to support teachers in the first study year only. Developers also conducted monthly in-class mentoring with teachers during both study years. Teachers also attended 4 to 5 full days of additional workshops, depending on the study year.

Reviewed: February 2018

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Literacy Achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Read 180 vs. Control (Stayers);
456 students

24.14

21.75

Yes

 
 
2
 
More Outcomes

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Xtreme Reading

0 Days

Read 180 vs. Xtreme Reading (Stayers);
454 students

24.14

21.95

No

--

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Xtreme Reading vs. Control (Stayers);
448 students

21.95

21.75

No

--

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. READ 180®

0 Days

Xtreme Reading vs. Read 180 (Stayers);
454 students

21.95

24.14

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 4% English language learners
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts

Setting

The study was conducted in five high schools in two districts in Massachusetts.

Study sample

For the analytic ITT sample (N = 679), 71% were minority, 56% were female, 21% were receiving special education and related services, 4% were EL, 69% received free or reduced price lunch, and average attendance was 92%. Comparison was 71% minority, 53% female, 19% were receiving special education and related services, 4% were EL, 74% received free or reduced price lunch, and average attendance was 91%. Read 180 was 74% minority, 61% female, 18% were receiving special education and related services, 3% were EL, 69% received free or reduced price lunch, and average attendance was 90%. Xtreme Reading was 78% minority, 57% female, 24% were receiving special education and related services, 4% were EL, 76% received free or reduced price lunch, and average attendance was 91%.

Intervention Group

Read 180 is a multi-part intervention for struggling readers that includes extensive use of instructional software, small-group instruction, and modeled and independent reading. The program uses "anchored instruction," a pedagogical technique that relies on "authentic situations as anchors" for problem solving. The program also uses computer-assisted instructional software that tracks individual student progress and adjusts reading instruction accordingly. The software has "an animated tutor who guides the student and provides feedback via a digitized human voice." The model is based on a 90-minute block that blends whole-class instruction and small-group student work, beginning with 20 minutes of whole-class instruction and concluding with 10 minute whole-class wrap up. For the intervening 60 minutes, students rotate among various stations. Measures of implementation fidelity varied over the five years of the study, depending in part on whether teachers followed the pacing calendar or devoted the full 90 minutes to READ 180 instruction. "Over time, data from multiple sources suggest READ 180 classes in one of the vocational-technical schools did not occur as planned, and were blended with regular ELA content." It appears that as of Years 4 and 5, all participating schools scheduled students to receive 90 minutes of Read 180 instruction Xtreme Reading targets students reading at least two years below grade level but who read at or above the fourth grade level. Intensive strategy instruction focuses on accurate word recognition and increased fluency and comprehension. The approach to instruction involves intensive lessons in which students have numerous opportunities to practice targeted learning strategies. Developers train teachers on “Learning Strategies” for students. The professional development model includes initial training, ongoing in-class mentoring by providers, and workshops on specific routines (See support for implementation below.) Class size was set at 15, and dosage was set to 45 minutes per day, sometimes within a 90-minute block of ELA courses. Some barriers prevented students from receiving the full 45 minutes of Xtreme Reading instruction in some cases: mediating factors for whether students received the correct dosage of the intervention included "Teacher buy-in and satisfaction with the program; (2) teacher ability to manage student behavior and elicit student engagement with material;; and (3) prevalence of reported barriers such as ELA and/or district or school assessment requirements as well as low rates of student attendance."

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition received supplemental services available to students in need of additional reading support and standard English language art courses for all students.

Support for implementation

Read 180: Teachers attended an initial 2 day summer training and administrators attended a 1 day training. Mentoring was provided by developers in-class monthly during the school year (only 6 months of the 8 in Year 1). Online RED course of 7 online sessions and in-person seminar (8 3 hours sessions) were held during the year. Materials included a paper library, CDs, audio-books, computers, audio equipment, interactive software (including online books, CAI-software, online lessons, and videos), and data management software and assessments. Xtreme Reading: Teachers received three days of summer training in Year 1, which was shortened to 2 days in Year 2. Administrators held a one day summer meeting to support teachers in Year 1 only. Developers provided in-class mentoring monthly during the school year (8 times in Year 1 and 9 times in Year 2). Teachers also attended 4 full days of additional workshops in Year 1 and 5 days in Year 2. Teachers received a reading library, lists of supplements, a curriculum included teacher/student notebooks, lesson plans for curriculum, assessments and measures of fidelity.

Reviewed: November 2016

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Literacy Achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Cohorts 1-5;
456 students

24.14

21.75

Yes

 
 
7
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Cohorts 1-4;
364 students

665.41

660.12

Yes

 
 
4

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Cohorts 1-3;
334 students

665.27

659.99

Yes

 
 
4

Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, fourth edition (SDRT-4)

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Cohorts 1-2;
241 students

664.78

661.94

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 3% English language learners

  • 74% Minority

  • 26% Non-minority

  • Female: 61%
    Male: 39%
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts

Setting

The study was conducted in two school districts, Chicopee and Springfield, in western Massachusetts.

Study sample

In each of the 5 study years, students in five study schools were screened prior to random assignment. Students at least two—but less than four—grade levels behind in reading performance were selected to participate. Students were excluded from the sample if (a) they had an IEP that specified reading supports not compatible with READ 180®, (b) they lacked sufficient English language proficiency, (c) their parents opted out of the study, (d) they were enrolled in an off-campus evening school, (e) they were deemed not to be a “struggling reader” based on grade history and MCAS scores, or (f) they could not be located in school enrollment records. Over the five annual cohorts, a total of 548 ninth-grade students with five teachers per year (one in each of five schools) were randomly assigned to the READ 180® group. The READ 180® analysis sample included 231 students taught by five teachers in five schools. This analysis sample was comprised of 74% racial and/or ethnic minorities, 61% female students, 18% special education students, and 3% English learners. A majority of students (69%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. A total of 566 students with five teachers per year (one in each of five schools) were randomly assigned to the comparison group. The analysis sample for the comparison group includes 225 students taught by five teachers in five schools. This analysis sample was comprised of 71% racial and/or ethnic minorities, 53% female students, 19% special education students, and 4% English learners. A majority of students (74%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Results for additional samples were reported in Year 2, Year 3, and Year 4 reports. In the Year 2 report, which includes impact estimates for a sample combining Cohorts 1–2, there were 128 students in the intervention group and 113 students in the comparison group. The Year 3 report presents findings for Cohorts 1–3, which included 175 students in the intervention group and 159 in the comparison. The Year 4 report presents findings on Cohorts 1–4, which included 186 students in the intervention group and 178 in the comparison. These supplemental findings do not factor into the intervention’s rating of effectiveness.

Intervention Group

The READ 180® intervention was delivered as a 90-minute daily supplement to the standard ninth-grade ELA course. A typical daily session included 20 minutes of whole-class instruction, 60 minutes of small-group breakouts involving direct instruction, independent work using program software, and modeled or independent reading. In addition, the intervention included recommended instructional strategies and instructional materials, including videos and interactive work texts. The READ 180® curriculum was paced to be completed over 125–145 school days; the average number of sessions attended by each student was not reported.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition received the standard ELA course (as did students in the intervention condition), as well as supplemental services ordinarily available to all students. In practice, comparison group students had minimal access to supplemental services. None of the comparison group teachers reported having any past experience with the READ 180® program, and they did not receive formal professional development in literacy instruction beyond what was customarily provided to all teachers. Use of multimedia appears to have been much more limited in the comparison group than in the intervention group.

Support for implementation

Teachers implementing the intervention were required to participate in professional development activities. Those implementing READ 180® for the first time were required to complete 52 hours of professional development over the course of the year in online training (seven sessions), group seminars (up to 30 hours), and individual face-to-face sessions (up to 16 hours). Less professional development was required of more experienced users: teachers with 3 years of prior READ 180® experience had to complete only 8 hours, and those implementing their fifth year had no such requirement.

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.

  • Sprague, K., Zaller, C., Kite, A., & Hussar, K. (2010). Springfield-Chicopee School Districts Striving Readers (SR) program Year 3 report: Evaluation of implementation and impact. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University.

  • Sprague, K., Zaller, C., Kite, A., & Hussar, K. (2009). Springfield-Chicopee School Districts Striving Readers (SR) program Year 2 report: Evaluation of implementation and impact. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University.

  • Sprague, K., Zaller, C., Kite, A., & Hussar, K. (2011). Springfield-Chicopee School Districts Striving Readers (SR) program Year 4 report: Evaluation of implementation and impact. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University.

Reviewed: March 2016

Meets WWC standards without reservations


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.
 

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