Areas of Expertise
Reading and Literacy
AIR’s work in reading and literacy spans early childhood to adult education, and focuses on literacy in schools and the workplace. Varied methodologies include quantitative and qualitative analyses, cognitive laboratory interviews and critical incident exercises, and evidence-based technical assistance. Whether investigating teacher knowledge about beginning reading instruction, studying the effectiveness of computer-based reading interventions, or providing guidance about adolescent struggling readers, sound theoretical principles and scientifically-based evidence are AIR’s touchstones.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has released a study of the impact of the Measures for Academic Progress (MAP) program. Conducted by AIR through the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest 2005-2011 contract, the study involved 32 elementary schools in five Illinois districts.
Evaluation of the Content Literacy Continuum: Report on Program Impacts, Program Fidelity, and Contrast
The Institute for Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education has published the findings of a randomized study conducted through a partnership between AIR and MDRC (through the Midwest Regional Education Laboratory 2005-2011 contract). The study examines the impact and implementation of the Content Literacy Curriculum, a tiered whole-school intervention aimed at improving adolescent literacy.
The First 5 LA Family Literacy Initiative is a comprehensive program to promote language and literacy development, parenting knowledge and skills, and economic self-sufficiency among low-income families in Los Angeles County. Findings from the eight-year evaluation of this Family Literacy Initiative have shown significant growth in language and literacy skills among children participating in these programs.
The Wisconsin Reading Excellence and Demonstration of Success (READS) initiative was launched by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in 1999–2000 in an effort to positively affect student reading achievement and reduce the number of referrals to special education in READS-funded schools through the implementation of comprehensive reading programs. This four-year comprehensive evaluation of the READS initiative includes both qualitative case studies and longitudinal analysis of student demographic and achievement data and special education referral rates.
As an alternative to the specified sanctions under the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, for school districts that were cited as being in corrective action, the state of New York negotiated an audit of the written, taught, and tested curriculum for its districts in need of improvement. The audits conducted by AIR consist of a mixed method evaluation, including analysis of extant student performance data; district policy documents; classroom observations; and interviews and focus groups with teachers, principals, students, parents, and district officials.
As a part of the Striving Readers program supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Milwaukee Public Schools implemented the READ 180 program in five schools in an effort to provide targeted literacy supports to struggling students. AIR conducted a rigorous evaluation of this effort designed to measure the causal effect of the intervention as well as monitor fidelity to the program model. Evaluators employed a student-level experimental design in which eligible students were randomly assigned to participate in the READ 180 intervention or to take the courses they would have taken prior to the implementation of the intervention. The evaluation team tracked implementation fidelity through classroom observations, interviews, and surveys.