Skip Navigation



- OR -


- OR -


- OR -

FY Awards

- OR -

Child-Instruction Interactions in Reading: Examining Causal Effects of Individualized Instruction in Second and Third Grade

Year: 2007
Name of Institution:
Florida State University
Goal: Efficacy and Replication
Principal Investigator:
Connor, Carol M.
Award Amount: $3,000,000
Award Period: 4 years
Award Number: R305B070074


Purpose: In this project, the researchers evaluated the impact of a web-based software system, Assessment-to-instruction (A2i), which was developed through a previous IES-funded project. A2i was designed to enables teachers to individualize reading instruction according to students' language and literacy skills by using algorithms to compute recommended amounts and types of instruction for each student. A2i also prepared instructional profiles for each child and provided teachers with suggestions for organizing children into groups with similar instructional needs for small-group reading instruction based on the student instructional profiles. In an earlier evaluation, the researchers tested A2i in first grade classrooms and found significantly stronger student reading outcomes in A2i classes than in control classes. In this study, the researchers evaluated A2i in second- and third-grade classrooms.

Project Activities: The researchers  conducted a rigorous evaluation of the effect of Assessment-to-instruction (A2i) on children's reading abilities. Teachers were randomly assigned to use A2i or to continue their regular teaching practices. The research team then assessed students three times per year on a battery of language, literacy, and self-regulation tasks and videotape classrooms during literacy instruction three times per year. The study was carried out in Florida elementary schools located in two economically and ethnically/racially diverse districts that had a high proportion of children living in poverty.

Structured Abstract


Purpose: The purpose of this study, which follows the completion of an earlier IES award entitled Individualizing Student Instruction (ISI) is to replicate, in second and third grade, the first grade finding that individualizing literacy instruction, supported by Assessment-to-instruction (A2i) software, causes significantly stronger student reading outcomes than typical reading instruction and to examine the impact on achievement of receiving one, two or three years of individualized literacy instruction.

Sample: Second and third grade students will be drawn from Florida elementary schools located in two districts: a middle-sized city district and a more rural district. Both districts have a high proportion of children living in poverty and are economically and ethnically/racially diverse.

Intervention: The researchers have developed and tested a method of individualizing student instruction based on models that incorporate child-by-instruction interactions, manipulating both time-on-task and literacy content, while encouraging effective literacy practices. The intervention includes Assessment-to-instruction (A2i) web-based software, which uses algorithms, based on their earlier research, to compute recommended amounts and types of instruction for each child in the classroom, as well as organization and planning software to support teachers' efforts to individualize literacy instruction. Teachers receive professional development as well.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a longitudinal randomized cluster design with teachers randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions. A first-grade replication randomized field trial is currently being conducted and is funded by NICHD. In this new project, the researchers will follow two cohorts of first grade students who participated in the initial evaluations of Assessment-to-instruction (A2i) into second grade. These students' second grade teachers will be randomly assigned to treatment or control conditions. The researchers will continue to follow students longitudinally into third grade and their third-grade teachers will be randomly assigned to treatment or control groups. This research design allows the researchers to investigate the efficacy of individualizing student instruction within grades and dosage effects across grades.

Control condition: The researchers will use an alternative treatment control group, which will include monthly professional development on individualizing literacy instruction.

Key Measures: Students will be assessed three times per year, fall, winter, and spring, on a battery of language, literacy, and self-regulation tasks, including the Woodcock Johnson-III Tests of Achievement. Classrooms will be videotaped during literacy instruction three times per year. Classroom and student level coding of these videos will allow the researchers to closely examine teachers' implementation of individualizing student instruction using A2i and the specific instruction each student received.

Data Analytic Strategy: Using hierarchical linear modeling with children nested in classrooms, the researchers will be able to compare the achievement of children in treatment and control classrooms within grades. To examine student achievement over time, the researchers will use cross-classified random effects models. Using the coding results from the classroom videos in the HLM models, the researchers can examine teacher fidelity to the intervention, and how it is related to student outcomes.

Related IES Projects: Child Instruction Interactions in Early Reading: Examining Causal Effects of Individualized Instruction (R305H040013), Commercializing the Effective K-3 Assessment to Instruction (A2i) Intervention to Reduce Cost and to Scale Access to the Benefit of More Students (EDIES14C0026),  Making Individualized Literacy Instruction Available to All Teachers: Adapting the Assessment to Instruction (A2i) Software for Multiple Real-World Contexts (R305A160404), Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students' (OLOS) Early Learning Observation System (R305N160050), Personalizing Literacy Instruction for English Learners (R305A210077), Developing A2i Spanish Adaptive Progress Monitoring Assessments for PK-3rd Grade (R305A210136)

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

WWC Review:

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Schatschneider, C., Toste, J. R., Lundblom, E., Crowe, E. C., & Fishman, B. (2011). Effective classroom instruction: Implications of child characteristics by reading instruction interactions on first graders' word reading achievement. Journal of research on educational effectiveness, 4(3), 173-207. [WWC Review]

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Schatschneider, C., Toste, J. R., Lundblom, E., Crowe, E. C., & Fishman, B. (2011). Effective classroom instruction: Implications of child characteristics by reading instruction interactions on first graders' word reading achievement. Journal of research on educational effectiveness, 4(3), 173-207. [WWC Review]

Connor, C. M., Dombek, J., Crowe, E. C., Spencer, M., Tighe, E. L., Coffinger, S., ... & Petscher, Y. (2017). Acquiring science and social studies knowledge in kindergarten through fourth grade: Conceptualization, design, implementation, and efficacy testing of content-area literacy instruction (CALI). Journal of educational psychology, 109(3), 301. [WWC Review]

Crowe, E. C., Connor, C. M., & Petscher, Y. (2009). Examining the core: Relations among reading curricula, poverty, and first through third grade reading achievement. Journal of School Psychology, 47(3), 187-214. [WWC Review]

Select Publications:

Book chapters

Connor, C.M. (2011). Child by Instruction Interactions: Language and Literacy Connections. In S.B. Neuman, and D.K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook on Early Literacy (3rd ed., pp. 256–275). New York: Guilford.

Connor, C.M., and Morrison, F.J. (2012). Knowledge Acquisition in the Classroom: Literacy and Content-Area Knowledge. In A.M. Pinkham, T. Kaefer, and S.B. Neuman (Eds.), Knowledge Acquisition in the Classroom: Sources of Learning and Classroom Implications (pp. 220–239). New York: Guilford Press.

Connor, C.M., Morrison, F.J., Fishman, B., and Schatschneider, C. (2013). Assessment and Instruction Connections: The Implications of Child X Instruction Interactions Effects on Student Learning. In J. Sabatini, and E.R. Albro (Eds.), Assessing Reading in the 21st Century: Aligning and Applying Advances in the Reading and Measurement Sciences. Lanham, MD: R and L Education.

Morrison, F.J., and Connor, C.M. (2009). The Transition to School: Child-Instruction Transactions in Learning to Read. In A. Sameroff (Ed.), The Transactional Model of Development: How Children and Contexts Shape Each Other (pp. 183–201). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Morrison, F.J., and Connor, C.M. (2010). Instructional Influences on Growth of Early Reading: Individualizing Student Learning. In N. Stein and S.W. Raudenbush (Eds.), Developmental Learning Sciences go to School: Implications for Education and Public Policy Research (pp. 17–29). New York: Taylor and Francis, Inc.

Morrison, F.J., and Connor, C.M. (2010). Literacy Development in the Transition to School: An Integrative Framework. In J. Meece, and J. Eccles (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development (pp. 185–197). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Morrison, F.J., Connor, C.M., and Hindman, A.H. (2010). Early Schooling and Growth of Literacy in the Transition to School. In D. Aram, and O. Korat (Eds.), Literacy Development and Enhancement Across Orthographies and Cultures (pp. 153–164). New York: Springer.

Journal articles

Al Otaiba, S., Connor, C.M., Folsom, J.S., Greulich, L., Meadows, J., and Li, Z. (2011). Assessment Data-Informed Guidance to Individualize Kindergarten Reading Instruction: Findings From a Cluster-Randomized Control Field Trial. Elementary School Journal, 111(4): 535–560.

Al Otaiba, S., Petscher, Y., Pappamihiel, N., Williams, R.S., Dyrlund, A.K., and Connor, C.M. (2009). Modeling Oral Reading Fluency Development in Latino Students: A Longitudinal Study Across Second and Third Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(2): 315–329.

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Fishman, B., Giuliani, S., Luck, M., Underwood, P.S., Bayraktar, A., Crowe, E.C., and Schatschneider, C. (2011). Testing the Impact of Child Characteristics x Instruction Interactions on Third Graders' Reading Comprehension by Differentiating Literacy Instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(3): 189–221.

Connor, C.M. (2008). Language and Literacy Connections for Children who are African American. Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Science in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, 15: 43–53.

Connor, C.M. (2009). Individualized Reading Instruction in Early Elementary Classrooms. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Special Edition: 33–38.

Connor, C.M., Jakobsons, L.J., Crowe, E., and Meadows, J. (2009). Instruction, Differentiation, and Student Engagement in Reading First Classrooms. Elementary School Journal, 109(3): 221–250.

Connor, C.M., Kaya, S., Luck, M., Toste, J., Canto, A., Rice, D. C., Novell, T., and Underwood, P.S. (2010). Content-Area Literacy: Individualizing Student Instruction in Second Grade Science. Reading Teacher, 63(6): 474–485

Connor, C.M., Morrison, F.J., Fishman, B., Ponitz, C.C., Glasney, S., Underwood, P., Piasta, S.B., Crowe, E.C., and Schatschneider, C. (2009). The ISI Classroom Observation System: Examining the Literacy Instruction Provided to Individual Students. Educational Researcher, 38(2): 85–99.

Connor, C.M., Morrison, F.J., Schatschneider, C., Toste, J., Lundblom, E.G., Crowe, E., and Fishman, B. (2011). Effective Classroom Instruction: Implications of Child Characteristic by Instruction Interactions on First Graders' Word Reading Achievement. Journal for Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4(3): 173–207.

Connor, C.M., Piasta, S.B., Fishman, B., Glasney, S., Schatschneider, C., Crowe, E., Underwood, P., and Morrison, F.J. (2009). Individualizing Student Instruction Precisely: Effects of Child by Instruction Interactions on First Graders' Literacy Development. Child Development, 80(1): 77–100.

Connor, C.M., Ponitz, C., Phillips, B.M., Travis, Q., Glasney, S., and Morrison, F.J. (2010). First Graders' Literacy and Self-Regulation Gains: The Effect of Individualizing Student Instruction. Journal of School Psychology, 48(5): 433–455.

Connor, C.M., Rice, D.C., Southerland, S.A., Canto, A., Underwood, P., Kaya, S., Fishman, B., and Morrison, F.J. (2012). Child Characteristics by Science Instruction Interactions in Second and Third Grade and Their Relation to Students' Content-Area Knowledge, Vocabulary and Reading Skill Gains. Elementary School Journal, 113(1): 52–75.

Connor, C.M., Schatschneider, C., Morrison, F.J., Ponitz, C.C, Piasta, S.B., Fishman, B., Ponitz, C.C., Crowe, E.C., Glasney, S., and Underwood, P.S. (2009). Back to the Future: Contrasting Scientific Styles in Understanding Reading: A Rejoinder to Willis and Smagorinsky. Educational Researcher, 38(7): 537–540.

Crowe, E., Connor, C.M., and Petscher, Y. (2009). Examining the Core: Relations Among Reading Curriculums, Poverty, and First Through Third Grade Reading Achievement. Journal of School Psychology, 47(3): 187–214.

Dombek, J., and Connor, C.M. (2012). Preventing Retention by Improving Teacher Efficacy in Reading. Psychology in Schools, 49(6): 568–588.

Hernandez, M., Al Otaiba, S., Folsom, J.S., Connor, C.M., and Thomas-Tate, S. (2012). The Componential Model of Reading: Predicting First Grade Reading Performance of Culturally Diverse Students From Ecological, Psychological, and Cognitive Factors Assessed at Kindergarten Entry. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45(5): 406–417.

Patton-Terry, N., and Connor, C.M. (2010). African American English and Spelling: How do Second Graders Spell Dialect-Sensitive Features of Words?. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 33(3): 199–210.

Petscher, Y., Connor, C.M., and Al Otaiba, S. (2012). Psychometric Analysis of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation Asessment. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 37(4): 244–251.

Piasta, S.B., Connor, C.M., Fishman, B., and Morrison, F.J. (2009). Teachers' Knowledge of Literacy, Classroom Practices, and Student Reading Growth. Scientific Studies of Reading, 13(3): 224–248.

Skibbe, L.E., Phillips, B.M., Day, S.L., Brophy-Herb, H.E., and Connor, C.M. (2012). Children's Early Literacy Growth in Relation to Classmates' Self-Regulation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(3): 541–553.

Taylor, J.J., Roehrig, A.D., Connor, C.M., and Schatschneider, C. (2010). Teacher Quality Moderates the Genetic Effects on Early Reading. Science, 328: 512–514.

Terry, N., Connor, C., Thomas-Tate, S., and Love, M. (2010). Examining Relationships Among Dialect Variation, Literacy Skills, and School Context in First Grade. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 53(1): 126–145.

Terry, N.P., and Connor, C.M. (2012). Changing Nonmainstream American English Use and Early Reading Achievement From Kindergarten to First Grade. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21(1): 78–86.

Terry, N.P., Connor, C.M., and Petscher, Y. (2012). Dialect Variation and Reading: Is Change in Nonmainstream American English Use Related to Reading Achievement in First and Second Grades?. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 55(1): 55–69.

Watts-Taffe, S., Laster, B., Broach, L., Marinak, B., Connor, C. M., and Walker-Dalhouse, D. (2012). Differentiated Instruction: Making Informed Teacher Decisions. Reading Teacher, 66(4): 303–314.