The study took place in 115 fourth-grade classrooms in 31 schools in Florida.
At participating schools, at least 40 percent of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Of the fourth-grade participants, 52 percent were girls. Of the third- and fourth-grade participants, 39 percent were African American, 53 percent were White, 3 percent were multi-racial, and the remaining were other ethnicities. (Note: The student ethnicity data were provided for the entire sample, which included both third- and fourth-grade students. This review focuses on only the fourth-grade students in two of three treatment conditions – i.e., the TEXTS intervention group and the business-as-usual comparison group – however, disaggregated student characteristic data were not provided.) On average, the fourth graders were 9.8 years old (SD = 0.50) at the time of initial screening.
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. There were four interventions implemented in this study, each a component of Comprehension Tools for Teachers (CTT), which provided tier 2 instruction to small groups of four or five students. Each intervention was provided for 30 minutes a day, four days a week, between 10 and 12 weeks. This review focuses on the Teaching Expository Text Structure (TEXTS) intervention, which aims to teach expository text structure and the ways in which particular words can identify particular structures. Examples of text structures include sequencing, cause and effect, compare and contrast, and problem and solution. The intervention consisted of a series of one-week-long units, each with a scripted lesson plan. The books that were used for each unit were based on common topics and the state’s fourth-grade standards. In a given week, on the first day, the first five minutes involved introducing signal words and the strategy of searching for words that might indicate the text’s structure. Then, students read the book for about 10 minutes followed by five to 10 minutes of application and practice. Lastly, there was a brief wrap-up and students were asked to review what they had learned. The second day entailed interventionists and students playing a relevant game, a guided reading through the story, and instructions on the use of a graphic organizer for representing text sequence. On the third day, students participated in guided review games and created stories that followed the week’s featured text structure. On the fourth day, interventionists and students engaged in a review of signal words. Then, interventionists introduced a new story with the same text structure but without signal words. Students were asked to consider what words might signal the text structure. On average, students attended 42 of 48 lessons.
The comparison condition was business-as-usual, so the comparison group students participated in their regular classroom instruction. The instruction focused on reading comprehension, strategies, discussions about texts, building vocabulary in context, writing, and decoding/encoding. The researchers conducted brief observations of classrooms as well as discussions and surveys with teachers. Generally, there was good quality instruction that followed the districts’ core literacy curricula. The core literacy curricula adopted by the districts included Treasures, Wonders, Open Court Imagine, and Journeys.
Support for implementation
The intervention was implemented by instructional assistants (IAs), who were supervised by intervention coordinators. The intervention coordinator's role was specific to the intervention. In other words, the IAs who implemented the TEXTS intervention was supervised by TEXTS intervention coordinators. The intervention coordinators provided eight hours of initial professional development specific to the TEXTS intervention followed by six hours of booster professional development. The coordinators also maintained discussion boards where IAs could post questions and submit responses to weekly implementation quizzes. Additionally, all IAs were trained to use a token economy system for behavioral management. Within the first few weeks of the study, coordinators observed each IA and provided immediate feedback. Then, coordinators monitored the IAs’ adherence to scripted lesson plans and quality of implementation. All intervention sessions were recorded, and each week, to rate the fidelity of implementation as well as provide feedback and support, one session per IA was reviewed.