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

PLATO Focus vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
29 classes




Show Supplemental Findings

Reading test score

PLATO Focus 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: 52%
    Male: 48%

  • Urban


The study took place within 3 school districts and across 8 different schools. Two of the school districts were considered to be located in urban areas and was in an urban area. The average district had 13 schools with roughly 6,966 students.

Study sample

Teachers in the classrooms averaged 17 years of teaching experience (intervention = 16.02; comparison = 17.17) with just over half of the teachers holding a master's degree (55%; 47% in intervention and 64% in comparison). The teachers in both the intervention and comparison group were all female. Students in these classrooms were an average age of 6.6; all students were in first grade. Fifty-two percent of the students were female (intervention = 53%; comparison = 52%). No other characteristics were reported.

Intervention Group

Intervention classrooms use the PLATO Focus reading curriculum during the school year. PLATO Focus is a complete reading curriculum that is designed to develop skills in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Activities include instructor led activities, computer-based activities, and print-based activities. Students spend varying amounts of time on each activity with the maximum amount of time on an activity being between 30 to 45 minutes. Teachers can choose the order and difficulty level for the computer-based activities. Teachers receive progress reports for each student using the curriculum. The curriculum can be implemented in either the regular classroom or a computer lab. A PLATO trained reading specialist should monitor students in a computer lab.

Comparison Group

Comparison students received business-as-usual.

Support for implementation

Prior to implementation intervention classroom teachers received three to six days of training. They received at least one day during the school year and at least one in-class consultation during the year. Ongoing support was provided via phone and through a web site. The estimated annual cost, per student, to implement the program was $351. Of that amount 27% was used for license fees and the remaining 73% was used for teacher training and support, technical support, and printed materials and supplies.


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