This study was conducted in 10 elementary schools (52 classrooms) in the southwest region of the United States. Four of those schools were near a small city, and the remainder were in a large urban school district. The areas were separated by approximately 150 miles. 103 students across these 10 schools were randomized within schools to either the intervention or comparison group, though only 72 students remained in the study.
The sample characteristics were reported separately for the intervention and comparison group, who had a mean age of 7.8 and 7.7 years respectively. Following are additional details about each group.
The analytic intervention sample included 47 students; 51% were female, 28% African American, 57% were Hispanic, 13% were white, and 2% were American Indian. Of students in the analytic intervention sample, 79% were eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch; 31% were in special education (though data were missing for two students); 30% were classified as limited English proficiency, 21% were repeating first grade; and 43% were in the urban school district.
Among those assigned to the comparison group, 44% were female, 48% were African American, 36% were Hispanic, 16% were white, and no students were American Indian. 84% of students in the comparison condition were eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch, 35% were in special education, 28% were classified as having limited English proficiency, 4% were repeating first grade, and 48% were in the urban school district.
Over the course of 24-26 weeks students in the intervention group met in groups of two or three for daily sessions, with each session lasting 45 minutes, in addition to their regular in-class reading instruction. The intervention was primarily based on "Responsive Reading Instruction," a flexible toolkit of supplemental reading activities for early grades. To this program activities were added that targeted spelling and reading multi-syllable words. For students who required additional fluency assistance, an adaptation of "Read Naturally" was also used.
Those administering the intervention had a wide range of activities to choose from. Their choices were guided by results from the DIBELS ORF exam, administered every four weeks to all students in the study, and from daily assessments administered to a subset of intervention students. Teachers were taught to use assessment results to guide instruction, and received ongoing coaching to assist in this.
Eight students in the intervention group also received supplemental reading instruction from their schools, though these weren't "comprehensive" supplemental reading services. This supplemental instruction was considered "typical school practice" (p. 12).
The comparison group condition was the business-as-usual condition. Comparison group students, like intervention students, received regular classroom learning instruction. DIBELS ORF results were provided to regular classroom teachers for all students, and teachers were taught how to interpret the results. As part of regular school practice, 16 students in the comparison group received supplemental reading instruction, such as tutoring and small-group lessons.
Support for implementation
Researcher selected interventionists participated in 18 hours of training prior to the intervention, 6 hours of training half way through the year, weekly professional development early in the intervention followed by bi-weekly professional development that in sum was approximately 22 hours.