The study was conducted in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a countrywide district, WCPSS has schools representing suburban, urban, and rural areas.
The authors used a cluster randomized controlled trial design to study the effects of KidBiz3000® on reading achievement for students in grades 2–5. The study took place over two school years (from 2013–14 to 2014–15) in 32 elementary schools. In summer of 2013, the authors matched pairs of schools on the basis of their average 2013 end-of-grade (EOG) reading composite scores, and then from within each matched pair, randomly assigned one school to the intervention group and one school to the comparison group. In both study years, the same 16 KidBiz3000® schools and 16 comparison schools participated in the study.
The WWC considers random assignment jeopardized because the analytic sample included students who enrolled in study schools after random assignment. For the general literacy domain, the 2-year combined analysis sample included 22,583 students in grades 2–5 in 24 schools: 11,802 students were in the Achieve3000® group, and 10,781 students were in the comparison group. For the comprehension domain, the 2-year combined analysis sample included 12,542 students in grades 4–5 in 32 schools: 6,585 students were in the Achieve3000® group, and 5,957 students were in the comparison group. Because some of the same students were analyzed in both years of the study, these reported sample sizes count some individual students more than once.
No demographic data were available on the analytic study sample; however, in the 32 participating schools, the student population was 51% White, 26% African-American, and 19% Hispanic. Moreover, 12% of students had disabilities, 9% of students in study schools were English learners, and 7% of students were academically and intellectually gifted (AIG). Approximately, one-third of the district's students were certified for free or reduced-price lunch.
KidBiz3000® was implemented in 30-minute sessions, two times per week over a school year. On initial use, students took a 30-minute test to measure their baseline reading achievement. For each lesson, students followed Achieve3000®’s five-step literacy routine. Across both years of the study, about 8% of intervention students completed at least 80 lessons (i.e., the developer’s recommended dosage), about 21% used 40-79 lessons, about 50% used 1-39 lessons, and 22% of students completed no activities. The Achieve3000® intervention was used to supplement a standard core reading curriculum; however, the authors did not identify which core curriculum was used.
The comparison condition was business-as-usual reading instruction. Classrooms in comparison schools did not receive a supplemental curriculum.
Support for implementation
The study included professional development to train teachers, consisting of two 2.5-hour large group training sessions, and one 1-hour small group session. Teachers were able to obtain follow-up help if needed.