WWC review of this study

Effects of a Structured Decoding Curriculum on Adult Literacy Learners' Reading Development [Making Sense of Decoding and Spelling]

Alamprese, Judith A., MacArthur, Charles A., Price, Cristofer, Knight, Deborah (2011). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness v4 n2 p154-172 . Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ920176

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    255
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: July 2020

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Alphabetics outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson Revised Test of Achievement (WJ-R ACH): Letter-Word Identification

Adult Education vs. Other intervention

2 Months

QED sample;
242 students

2.44

-2.18

No

--
More Outcomes

Wide Range Achievement Test-Revision 3 (WRAT-3): reading subtest

Adult Education vs. Other intervention

2 Months

QED sample;
229 students

5.45

2.63

No

--

Woodcock Reading Mastery Test Revised (WRMT-R): Word Attack subtest

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
251 students

5.49

2.54

No

--

Letter-Sound Survey

Adult Education vs. Other intervention

2 Months

QED sample;
250 students

1.74

0.60

No

--

Wide Range Achievement Test- Third Edition (WRAT-3): Spelling subtest

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
255 students

1.71

0.47

No

--

Wide Range Achievement Test-Revision 3 (WRAT-3): reading subtest

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
239 students

5.45

4.06

No

--

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE): Sight Word Efficiency subtest

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
239 students

0.99

-0.44

No

--

Woodcock Reading Mastery Test Revised (WRMT-R): Word Attack subtest

Adult Education vs. Other intervention

2 Months

QED sample;
241 students

5.49

3.89

No

--

Developmental Spelling Test

Adult Education vs. Other intervention

2 Months

QED sample;
212 students

0.78

0.24

No

--

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE): Phonemic Decoding Efficiency subtest

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
242 students

0.80

-0.09

No

--

Developmental Spelling Test

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
254 students

0.78

0.46

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson Revised Test of Achievement (WJ-R ACH): Letter-Word Identification

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
249 students

2.44

2.15

No

--

Letter-Sound Survey

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
250 students

1.74

1.58

No

--
Comprehension outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Nelson comprehension test

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
253 students

2.18

2.86

No

--
More Outcomes

Nelson Word Meaning Test

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
254 students

1.29

4.84

No

--
Reading Fluency outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Passage Reading Test

Adult Education vs. Business as usual

2 Months

RCT sample;
241 students

1.89

2.09

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.


  • 35% English language learners

  • Female: 66%
    Male: 34%
  • Race
    Asian
    15%
    Black
    20%
    Other or unknown
    30%
    White
    35%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    24%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    76%

Setting

The study took place in 23 adult literacy programs located in 12 states. These programs included 71 reading classes and 34 instructors.

Study sample

The initial sample consisted of 349 learners. These learners attended an adult literacy program that provided class-based instruction to English-speaking adults at the intermediate level. Sixty-six percent of the learners were female. The race/ethnicity distribution of learners was 35 percent White, 24 percent Hispanic, 20 percent Black, 15 percent Asian, and 6 percent in an unspecified other category. Thirty-five percent were born and educated outside of the United States. Sixty-three percent had low incomes based on the poverty threshold of $12,000 annual salary. Thirty-one percent were identified as having a learning disability.

Intervention Group

The Making Sense of Decoding and Spelling (MSDS) curriculum was designed specifically for adult learners and used to teach decoding and spelling. Instruction lasted approximately 30 weeks, with classes meeting from one to five days per week. The curriculum includes a review of alphabetic decoding skills and principles and teaches a strategy for decoding multisyllabic words. Instruction was primarily delivered to the whole group in scripted lessons, but lessons include paired- and individual-learner reading practice designed to improve reading speed. Each lesson includes progress monitoring assessments. Instructors were given lesson plans with examples and presentation materials.

Comparison Group

There were two comparison groups. In both groups, classes lasted about 30 weeks and met one to five days per week. The authors refer to the first group as the control condition, because a lottery was used to construct this group. Instructors in these programs continued to use their existing reading instruction. These classes did not use a published scope and sequence. Teachers typically included some decoding, but placed more emphasis on spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension. The second group received explicit instruction on reading and spelling that was based on an adapted curriculum. The structured decoding curricula were designed for K–3 students, but were adapted for use with adults. Additional information about the curricula was not provided.

Support for implementation

The researchers measured attendance and hours of instruction for each of the study groups. The mean number of hours of instruction was approximately 65 among those using a K–3 curriculum adapted for adult learners, 60 among those using existing reading instruction, and 50 among those using the MSDS curriculum. Attendance rates were 57 percent, 51 percent, and 55 percent, respectively. The researchers also looked at whether MSDS was implemented as intended by calculating the percentage of lessons taught, the number of hours of study curriculum offered to learners, and the level of fidelity to the scripted lessons based on classroom observations. The median percentage of lessons taught was 92 percent; the mean total hours of study curriculum was 27; and the mean fidelity scores were 2.18 on a scale of 0 to 3 on the classroom observation form, where a score of 3 means all segments were taught as scripted.

 

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