The study included fourth- and fifth-grade students who were identified as struggling readers from two urban, public charter schools in the south-central region of the United States.
Sample characteristics were based on the randomized sample of 62 students (rather than the analytic sample of 61 students). The sample included 23 females (37.1 percent) and 39 males (62.9 percent). Students were in either fourth grade (28 students, 45.2 percent) or fifth grade (34 students, 54.8 percent). The sample included 56 Hispanic students (90.3 percent), 5 African American students (8.1 percent), 1 Asian student (1.6 percent), 39 English learners (62.9), 54 students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch (87.1 percent), and 2 students with a learning disability (3.2 percent). Students were on average ten years old (SD=0.74). The average score on the 2017 State Reading Test was 1342.8 (SD=65.7).
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. The intervention targeted paraphrasing and text structure instruction. More specifically, the intervention sought to teach students how to generate main ideas of longer sections of text and to use text structure instruction to select, chunk, support the generation of main ideas (which can free up cognitive resources for text processing), and support greater understanding of text content. The intervention was provided by five tutors, including four doctoral students in special education and one Ph.D. in early education. In groups of 4 to 6 students (30 groups), intervention group students participated in 25 lessons, each about 45 minutes in duration. Materials for the intervention were drawn from Readworks.org, QuickReads, and three National Geographic leveled readers. Materials represented targeted text structures, were aligned with fourth- and fifth-grade social studies and science content, and represented third- through fifth-grade reading levels and Lexile levels ranging from 400 to 1070. Texts were selected such that they increased in reading level, length, and complexity over the course of the intervention period. Lessons combine text structure and paraphrasing instruction. Each lesson included an opportunity to share the application of skills learned (3 minutes), background knowledge building with a visual (5 minutes), text reading (15-20 minutes), explicit instruction on generating main ideas while reading (15-20 minutes), and fix-up practices and lesson review (2 minutes).
Comparison group students at one school attended business-as-usual science instruction (fourth graders) or social studies instruction (fifth graders) while intervention group students participated in the intervention. Ten of those 24 students received additional reading intervention during the school day, which consisted of either explicit decoding instruction for 45-minute sessions five times per week (seven students) or explicit decoding instruction for 90-minute sessions five times per week (three students). At the second school, comparison group students participated in after-school activities while the intervention group students participated in the intervention. Of the seven comparison group students at the second school, three received Tier 2 small group reading intervention and three received Tier 3 small group reading intervention during the English language arts block during 30- to 45-minute sessions, 3 to 4 times per week.
Support for implementation
The lead researcher provided a four-hour training to the tutors that focused on the rationale of the study, use of the materials, and the practices. Intervention lessons were audio-recorded. Implementation fidelity was rated based on procedural fidelity, overall quality, and dosage. The first author trained two research assistants to conduct fidelity ratings. Of the total observations, 20 percent were randomly selected from within each tutoring group for the fidelity ratings. Also, the first author listened to audio recordings of each tutoring group after lesson 8 and lesson 16 and then provided feedback on implementation and instructional quality.