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 Integrated group was 36.7 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; the Integrated group was 36.7 percent Hispanic, 30.0 percent White, 26.7 percent African American, and 6.7 percent Asian. The majority of the sample was in sixth grade. 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 Integrated group, two students (6.7 percent) had been retained two years, 10 students (33.3 percent) had been retained one year, and the rest (18 students, 60 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 Integrated group, 11 students (36.7 percent) had attended two schools, 16 students (53.3 percent) had attended three or four schools, and 3 students (10 percent) had attended five to eight schools. Fifty-seven percent of students had a specific learning disability.
Of the six teachers, five teachers were female, one was male, five 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 Integrated 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.
In the Integrated module, all components are taught together in each lesson. The Integrated module combines instruction of the spelling and fluency components with the linguistics skill component. The organization of the Integrated module is 3 days of linguistics skills, spelling, and fluency instruction alternated with 2 days of comprehension instruction, for each week of implementation.
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.