WWC review of this study

Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings From Two Student Cohorts. NCEE 2009-4041

Campuzano, Larissa; Dynarski, Mark; Agodini, Roberto; Rall, Kristina (2009). National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED504657

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: September 2016

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Reading achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Reading test score

Headsprout Early Reading vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
63 classes




Show Supplemental Findings

Reading test score

Headsprout Early Reading vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Year 2 classrooms only ;
18 classes





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.

  • Female: 48%
    Male: 52%

  • Urban


The study took place within 3 school districts and across 12 different schools. One school district was considered to be located in an urban fringe area, one in an urban area, and one in a rural area. The average district had 59 schools with roughly 47,723 students.

Study sample

Teachers in the classrooms averaged 11 years of teaching experience (intervention = 9.56; comparison = 11.51) with just over half of the teachers holding a master's degree (58%; 50% in intervention and 67% in comparison). All teachers in both the intervention and comparison groups were female. Students in these classrooms were an average age of 6.7; all students were in first grade. Forty-eight percent of the students were female (intervention = 48%; comparison = 49%). No other characteristics were reported.

Intervention Group

Intervention classrooms used the Headsprout Early Reading program. The Headsprout Early Reading program is supplemental reading program published by Headsprout to help improve student reading skills. Specifically, the program works on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The program consists of 80 episodes, which are broken down into 40 episode segments that focus on different topics. The first 40 focus on decoding, segmenting, and blending. The last 40 focus on vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension. Students are able to work through the program at their own pace. Teachers are provided information on student progress and usage through assessment reports. The software is designed to be used in the regular classroom or a computer lab and is recommended to be used for 30 minutes a day at least three times a week.

Comparison Group

Comparison condition received business-as-usual.

Support for implementation

Prior to implementation intervention classroom teachers received one day of initial training. Training was completed via phone, web, or in-person. Support through implementation was provided by via phone and e-mail. The estimated annual cost, per student, to implement the program was $146. Of that amount 85% was used for license fees and the remaining 15% was used for teacher training and support, technical support, and printed materials and supplies.


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