This study reports year 1 findings from a multi-site cluster randomized controlled trial of a cognitive strategies approach to teaching text-based analytical writing for mainstreamed Latino English Language learners (ELLs) in 9 middle schools and 6 high schools. 103 English teachers were stratified by school and grade and then randomly assigned to the Pathway Project professional development intervention or control group. The Pathway Project trains teachers to use a pretest on-demand writing assessment to improve text-based analytical writing instruction for mainstreamed Latino ELLs who are able to participate in regular English classes. The intervention draws on well documented instructional frameworks for teaching mainstreamed ELLs. Such frameworks emphasize the merits of a cognitive strategies approach that supports these learners' English language development. Pathway teachers participated in 46 hours of training and learned how to apply cognitive strategies by using an on-demand writing assessment to help students understand, interpret, and write analytical essays about literature. Multilevel models revealed significant effects on an on-demand writing assessment (d = .35) and the California Standards Test in English Language Arts (d = .07).
The purpose of this study was (1) to examine the causal effects of READ 180, a mixed- methods literacy intervention, on measures of word reading efficiency, reading comprehension and vocabulary, and oral reading fluency and (2) to examine whether print exposure among children in the experimental condition explained variance in posttest reading scores. A total of 294 children in Grades 4 to 6 were randomly assigned to READ 180 or a district after-school program. Both programs were implemented four days per week over 23 weeks. Children in the READ 180 intervention participated in three 20-minute literacy activities, including (1) individualized computer-assisted reading instruction with videos, leveled text, and word study activities, (2) independent and modeled reading practice with leveled books, and (3) teacher- directed reading lessons tailored to the reading level of children in small groups. Children in the district after-school program participated in a 60-minute program in which teachers were able to select from 16 different enrichment activities that were designed to improve student attendance. There was no significant difference between children in READ 180 and the district after-school program on norm-referenced measures of word reading efficiency, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. Although READ 180 had a positive impact on oral reading fluency and attendance, these effects were restricted to children in Grade 4. Print exposure, as measured by the number of words children read on the READ 180 computer lessons, explained 4% of the variance in vocabulary and 2% of the variance in word reading efficiency after all pretest reading scores were partialed out.
This chapter addresses an important issue for education policymakers and practitioners in the United States. The question we ask is whether socioeconomic differences in reading achievement can be reduced by programs that encourage silent reading in the summer months.1 In the years following school entry, children of low socioeconomic status (SES) lose ground in reading relative to their high-SES counterparts. This widening achievement gap may be largely the result of different rates of learning during the summer months (e.g., Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, 2001; Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, & Greathouse, 1996; Heyns, 1978). Even small differences in summer learning can accumulate across years resulting in a substantially greater achievement gap at the end of elementary school than was present at the beginning (Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, 2004; see also Borman & Dowling, 2006; Lai, McNaughton, Amituanai- Toloa, Turner, & Hsiao, 2009).
The effects of a voluntary summer reading intervention with and without a parent training component were evaluated with a sample of low-income Latino children from language minority families. During the last month of fourth-grade, 370 children were pretested on a measure of reading comprehension and vocabulary and randomly assigned to (1) a treatment group in which children received 10 self-selected books during summer vacation, (2) a family literacy group in which children received 10 self-selected books and were invited with their parents to attend 3 2- hour summer literacy events, and (3) a control group. Although children in the treatment group and family literacy group reported reading more books than the control group, there was no significant effect on reading comprehension and vocabulary. Recommendations for improving the efficacy of the intervention are discussed, including efforts to improve the match between reader ability and the readability of texts and the instructional goals of the family literacy events.
This paper has three goals. First, it describes the broader research on summer reading loss. Second, it discusses how research and development efforts informed the key components of Project READS (Reading Enhances Achievement During Summer), a scaffolded voluntary summer reading intervention for children in grades 3 to 5. The second part of the paper also describes results from four randomized experiments, which provide rigorous evidence on the efficacy of the READS logic model. Third, it concludes with a checklist to guide districts and schools interested in implementing and evaluating a scaffolded voluntary summer reading program like Project READS.
Randomized field trials were used to examine the impact of the Teacher Study Group (TSG), a professional development model, on first grade teachers’ reading comprehension and vocabulary instruction, their knowledge of these areas, and on the comprehension and vocabulary achievement of their students. The multi-site study was conducted in three large urban school districts from three states. A total of 81 first grade teachers and their 468 students from 19 Reading First schools formed the analytic sample in the study. Classrooms observations of teaching practice showed significant improvements in TSG schools. TSG teachers also significantly outperformed control teachers on the teacher knowledge measure of vocabulary instruction. Confirmatory analysis of student outcomes indicated marginally significant effects in oral vocabulary.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), every school is subject to the controversial mandates for annual test score gains contained in the federal law. The law represents a profound change in the relationship between the federal government and state and local education agencies regarding who controls education and has direct implications for what happens educationally in schools and classrooms. Although NCLB affects these and other important areas of the educational system and imposes great pressure on school leaders, it is silent on the role of principals in fostering school improvement. Yet many of NCLB's provisions have important implications for principals. The law is based on the assumption that external accountability and the imposition of sanctions will force schools to improve and motivate teachers to change their instructional practices, resulting in better school performance. By relying on the threat of sanctions and market mechanisms--choice and supplemental educational services--to force school improvement, the law tends to place the principals of low-achieving schools in the role of trying to produce very large gains every year for every subgroup of students. In this article, the authors highlight the contradictions and oversimplifications in the existing law. They also discuss the findings of a teacher survey which they conducted to understand teachers' views of the assumptions underlying NCLB and the implications of these findings for principals.
Summer’s always been a great time to kick back with a book. But a strong body of research shows that, without practice, students lose reading skills over the summer months and children from low-income families lose the most. With the prevalence of television, computers and other electronic distractions, how can parents, educators and librarians encourage kids to immerse their minds and imaginations in books over the summer months?
The author describes how researchers have resolved scientific controversies in early reading instruction and explains why good research seems to have a delayed and limited effect on reading policy and practice. The article summarizes findings from major syntheses of early reading instruction over the past four decades and concludes with ideas for accelerating the communication of research to practitioners and empowering teachers to establish norms of excellent practice. (4 pp.)
The effects of a voluntary summer reading intervention with teacher and parent scaffolding were investigated in an experimental study. A total of 24 teachers and 400 children in Grades 3, 4, and 5 were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions: control, books only, books with oral reading scaffolding, and books with oral reading and comprehension scaffolding. Books were matched to children's reading levels and interests. Children were pre- and posttested on measures of oral reading fluency (DIBELS) and silent reading ability (Iowa Test of Basic Skills [ITBS]). Results showed that children in the books with oral reading and comprehension scaffolding condition scored significantly higher on the ITBS posttest than children in the control condition. In addition, children in the two scaffolding conditions combined scored higher on the ITBS posttest than children in the control and books only conditions combined. Practical implications for summer voluntary reading interventions are discussed.
The authors designed and implemented a voluntary reading program that was intended to reduce loss in reading achievement over the summer months, particularly for low-income and ethnic minority children. The program had two major components:
providing eight books that were well matched to each child's reading level and interests
end-of-year lessons and activities for teachers and parents to provide support or scaffolding for children's summer reading
Teacher and parent scaffolding consisted of comprehension strategies instruction and oral reading practice. The results of two experiments demonstrated that the program had positive and educationally meaningful effects on reading achievement. These effects were largest for black and Hispanic children, ranging from 1.7 to 5.1 months of additional learning. Simply giving children books without any form of scaffolding did not have positive effects.
The causal effects of a voluntary summer reading intervention on children’s reading activities and reading achievement were assessed in a randomized experiment involving 331 children in Grades 1 to 5. Children were pretested in the spring on a standardized test of reading achievement (Stanford 10th edition), the Elementary Reading Attitudes Survey (ERAS), and a reading preference survey. At the end of the school year, children were stratified by their grade level and classroom and randomly assigned to receive 10 books matched to their reading levels and preferences during summer vacation or after the administration of posttests. Children in the treatment group received books through airmail in July and August. In September, children were re-administered the reading test and completed a survey of their summer reading activities. Although the treatment group reported reading more books and participating in more literacy activities than the control group, there was no significant difference in reading achievement. Recommendations for enhancing the effects of voluntary reading through teacher-directed instruction and for conducting a replication study are discussed.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) expanded the federal role in American education, and by doing so altered the distribution of power among the federal government, states, and local districts. When the law was enacted, it was unclear how this change in the dis- tribution of power would play itself out. This study examines the developing set of relationships between federal, state, and local officials under the new law and the factors that have contributed to a growing conflict over implementation. To fully understand the implications of NCLB requires examining these interactions as well as understanding the substantive educational issues it raises. We identify three factors that contributed to the growing dissatisfaction with the law, namely, the Bush administration’s approach to federalism, the states’ limited capacity to meet the new requirements, and the fiscal constraints facing state governments. We argue that these factors have contributed to the conflict with federal officials, eroded state commitment to the law, and complicated implementation efforts.
The effects of a voluntary summer reading intervention were assessed in a randomized field trial involving 552 students in 10 schools. In this study, fourth-grade children received 8 books to read during summer vacation, and were encouraged by their teachers to practice oral reading at home with a family member and to use comprehension strategies during independent, silent reading. Reading lessons occurred during the last month of school in June, and 8 books were mailed to students on a biweekly basis during July and August. The estimated treatment effects on a standardized test of reading achievement (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) were largest for Black students (ES = .22), Latino students (ES = .14), less fluent readers (ES = .17), and students who reported owning fewer than 50 children’s books (ES = .13). The main findings suggest that a voluntary summer reading intervention may represent a scaleable policy for improving reading achievement among lower-performing students.
The accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 place high-poverty schools and racially diverse schools at a dis- advantage because they rely on mean proficiency scores and require all subgroups to meet the same goals for accountability. In this arti- cle, student achievement data from six states are used to highlight differences in the demographic characteristics of schools identified as needing improvement and schools meeting the federal adequate yearly progress requirements. School-level data from Virginia and California are used to illustrate that these differences arise both from the selection bias inherent in using mean proficiency scores and from rules that require students in racially diverse schools to meet multiple performance targets. The authors suggest alternatives for the design of accountability systems that include using multiple mea- sures of student achievement, factoring in student improvement on achievement tests in reading and mathematics, and incorporating state accountability ratings of school performance.