Closing the reading gap: Findings from a randomized trial of four reading interventions for striving readers

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (U.S. Department of Education 2006), 36 percent of fourth graders read below the basic level. Such literacy problems can worsen as students advance through school and are exposed to progressively more complex concepts and courses. While schools often are able to provide some literacy intervention, many lack the resources⎯teachers skilled in literacy development and appropriate learning materials⎯to help older students in elementary school reach grade-level standards in reading. The consequences of this problem are life changing. Young people entering high school in the bottom quartile of achievement are substantially more likely than students in the top quartile to drop out of school, setting in motion a host of negative social and economic outcomes for students and their families. For their part, the nation’s 16,000 school districts are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on educational products and services developed by textbook publishers, commercial providers, and nonprofit organizations. Yet we know little about the effectiveness of these interventions. Which ones work best? For whom do they work best? Do these programs have the potential to close the reading gap?
Authors citation
Torgesen, J. K., Schirm, A., Castner, L., Vartivarian, S., Mansfield, W., Myers, D., … Haan, C.
Publication
Washington, D.C.: US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
Year of Study
2007
Subject
Literacy
Program Evaluated
Spell Read
Tutor Type
Teacher
Duration
20 weeks
Sample size
196
Grade Level(s)
3rd Grade,
4th Grade,
5th Grade
Student-Tutor Ratio
Small group
Effect Size
0.12
Study Design
Student Randomized
Full citation
Torgesen, J. K., Schirm, A., Castner, L., Vartivarian, S., Mansfield, W., Myers, D., … Haan, C. (2007). National assessment of Title I. Final report. Volume II: Closing the reading gap: Findings from a randomized trial of four reading interventions for striving readers. (No. NCEE 2008-4013). Washington, D.C.: US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.