The study took place at two middle schools in a southeastern U.S. school district. Instruction for all modules took place during students’ daily 70-minute special education resource language arts class period.
Student participants were in middle school (sixth to eighth grades) with reading disabilities and on average approximately 12 years old. The Alternating intervention group was 37.9 percent female and the Additive group was 32.3 percent female. The Alternating intervention group was 20.7 percent Hispanic, 37.9 percent White, 24.1 percent African American, and 17.2 percent Asian; and the Additive group was 19.4 percent Hispanic, 35.5 percent White, 38.7 percent African American, and 6.5 percent Asian. A majority of students in the Alternating, Integrated, and Additive groups were in sixth grade (51.7 percent, 46.7 percent, and 58.1 percent, respectively), and smaller percentages were in the seventh and eighth grades. In the Alternating group, five students (17.2 percent) had been retained one year, and the rest of the students had not been retained. In the Additive group, one student (3.2 percent) had been retained for two years, 11 students (35.5 percent) had been retained one year, and the rest (19 students, 61.3 percent) had not been retained. In the Alternating group, 14 students (48.3 percent) had attended two schools, 14 students (48.3 percent) had attended three or four schools, and 1 student (3.4 percent) had attended between five and eight schools. In the Additive group, 12 students (38.7 percent) had attended two schools, 12 students (38.7 percent) had attended three or four schools, and seven students (22.6 percent) had attended five to eight schools. Fifty-five percent of students had a specific learning disability and 1.67 percent had emotional disturbance.
Of the six teachers, five teachers were female and one was male. Five teachers were White, and one was African American. The mean age of the teachers was 51.22 years (SD=3.52, range 48-57); and the mean number of years teaching was 8.88 years (SD=4.04, range 3-13 years). One teacher was teaching on a special education emergency license, one had a bachelor’s degree, three had master’s degrees, and one had an Ed.S. degree in education.
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. The intervention condition was the Additive component of the Reading Achievement Multi-Modular Program (RAMP-UP). RAMP-UP is an expansion of the Linguistics Skills Training program (LST)/Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) program.
RAMP-UP incorporates small group sizes, directed questioning and responses, guided practice, explicit and direct instruction, extended practice opportunities with feedback, breaking down tasks into component parts, reading fluency, reading comprehension strategies, and contextual reading.
Instruction took place during the student’s daily 70-min special education resource language arts class period. The intervention duration was 45 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for 26 weeks.
The Additive module focuses on developing automaticity of core linguistic skills and provides up-front isolated linguistics skill instruction. The Additive module is comprised of three 7-week segments and one 5-week segment, where the first segment addresses isolated linguistics skill instruction. The second segment adds spelling instruction; and the third segment adds fluency instruction. During the fourth segment, comprehension instruction is added and linguistic skill instruction is discontinued.
The comparison condition is the Alternating component of RAMP-UP, which is comprised of linguistics skill instruction in isolation 3 days a week alternated with comprehension instruction in isolation 2 days a week, for each week of implementation. Instruction occurred 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 26 weeks.
Support for implementation
Before the study began, the teachers participated in a 2-day workshop that focused on the instructional components (linguistics, spelling, fluency, and comprehension). During the first training session, teachers were taught peer-mediated procedures for the components and used role-playing techniques to practice. Then, the structure and content of each component were taught. An additional 33 hours of training was provided throughout the 26 weeks of implementation to support the teaching of linguistics skills and spelling. Graduate research assistants (GRAs) provided ongoing support by participating in 90 percent of all lessons, helping monitor students during lesson implementation, and providing corrective feedback.