National Assessment of Title I: Interim Report
Volume II: Closing the Reading Gap
This study is a large-scale, longitudinal evaluation comprising two main elements. The first element of the evaluation is an impact study of the four interventions. This evaluation report is addressing three broad types of questions related to intervention impacts:
- What is the impact of being in any of the four remedial reading interventions, considered as a group, relative to the instruction provided by the schools? What is the impact of being in one of the remedial reading programs that focuses primarily on developing word-level skills, considered as a group, relative to the instruction provided by the schools? What is the impact of being in each of the four particular remedial reading interventions, considered individually, relative to the instruction provided by the schools?
- Do the impacts of programs vary across students with different baseline characteristics?
- To what extent can the instruction provided in this study close the reading gap and bring struggling readers within the normal range, relative to the instruction provided by their schools?
To answer these questions, the impact study was based on a scientifically rigorous design—an experimental design that uses random assignment at two levels: (1) 50 schools from 27 school districts were randomly assigned to one of the four interventions, and (2) within each school, eligible children in grades 3 and 5 were randomly assigned to a treatment group or to a control group. Students assigned to the intervention group (treatment group) were placed by the program providers and local coordinators into instructional groups of three students. Students in the control groups received the same instruction
in reading that they would have ordinarily received. Children were defined as eligible if they were identified by their teachers as struggling readers and if they scored at or below the 30th percentile on a word-level reading test and at or above the 5th percentile on a vocabulary test. From an original pool of 1,576 3rd and 5th grade students identified as struggling readers, 1,042 also met the test-score criteria. Of these eligible students, 772 were given permission by their parents to participate in the evaluation.
The second element of the evaluation is an implementation study that has two components: (1) an exploration of the similarities and differences in reading instruction offered in the four interventions and (2) a description of the regular instruction that students in the control group received in the absence of the interventions and the regular instruction received by the treatment group beyond the interventions.
Test data and other information on students, parents, teachers, classrooms, and schools is being collected several times over a three-year period. Key data collection points pertinent to this summary report include the period just before the interventions began, when baseline information was collected, and the period immediately after the interventions ended, when follow-up data were collected. Additional follow-up data for students and teachers are being collected in 2005 and again in 2006.