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Debbie Zorn, Director
Jerry M. Jordan, Ph.D., Research Associate
Beth O’Brien, Ph.D., Dept. of Early Childhood Education, University of Cincinnati
Martin D. Saperstein, Ph.D., Saperstein Associates
Stephanie Groce, Saperstein Associates
Emily Goldman, Saperstein Associates
Holly Knight, Saperstein Associates
The University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center (UCESC), in association with Saperstein Associates, conducted a national field study of the effectiveness of the ZanerBloser Reaching All Readers K-3 reading intervention program. Conducted during the 2009- 2010 school year, the study involved 114 classroom teachers and reading specialists in 108 separate schools in 34 states. A total of 1,646 students participated in some capacity. Teachers were assigned to one of two functionally equivalent groups. Teachers in the experimental group (n = 62) implemented the Reaching All Readers program in their K-3 reading intervention activities while teachers in the comparison group (n = 52) continued using their current reading intervention programs. The students of all teachers in both groups completed grade-appropriate versions of the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test, 4 th Edition (GMRT), in a pretest-posttest fashion as an assessment of student progress of literacy skills. All teachers in both conditions completed a midstudy questionnaire, an online teaching log, and a final comprehensive evaluation questionnaire. Thus this study was designed to assess student progress associated with the use of the Reaching All Readers program. Further, since teachers’ attitudes towards and opinions of instructional materials are considered vital to the effectiveness of any educational program, the study also assessed teachers’ perceptions and evaluations of the central components of their reading intervention programs.
Analyses of the students’ GMRT scores validate the basic effectiveness of the Reaching All Readers program and also verify the effectiveness of Reaching All Readers with special subgroups of students. Students at all grade levels (K-3) whose teachers used Reaching All Readers made substantial and significant progress from the beginning of the study period to the end of the school year. Results indicate that Reaching All Readers was equally effective for both male and female students. Analyses of specific student subgroups revealed that the program is effective with African-American students, Latino/Hispanic students, Asian students and students classified as Multi-Racial. Students in all of these groups who used Reaching All Readers in their classes showed significant progress from pretest to posttest. Results also indicate that Reaching All Readers is effective with students who are English Language Learners (ELL). ELL students using Reaching All Readers, at all grade levels, showed significant gains in literacy skills from pretest to posttest. Reaching All Readers was also effective with students with Literacy Plans. All students with Literacy Plans in their schools who used Reaching All Readers showed significant gains in literacy skills from pretest to posttest. Results are mixed for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Kindergarten and first grade students who had IEPs and who used Reaching All Readers showed significant gains in literacy skills from pretest to posttest. However, the students in second and third grade who had IEPs and used Reaching All Readers did not show significant progress over the study period.
The effectiveness of Reaching All Readers was further explored by examining the gross gains in students’ standardized test scores and then also by focusing on the percentage of students who were brought up to grade level competencies during their intervention classes. First, the gains in test scores observed in the students who used Reaching All Readers (the experimental group) were compared to the gains exhibited by the students who used other programs (the comparison group). Significance testing of these overall gains revealed that student gains were essentially equivalent at the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade levels. That is, the gains exhibited by students in the experimental group were not significantly different from the gains exhibited by students in the comparison group. At the third grade level, the average gain in standardized test scores by students in the comparison group was significantly higher than the average gain by the students in the experimental group.
Since the primary goal of reading intervention programs is to bring students up to the reading level appropriate for their grade level in school, additional analyses examined the extent to which students using Reaching All Readers were successful in progressing to the point of grade appropriate skill levels in literacy. Results revealed a substantial increase in the percentage of students achieving grade level competencies in literacy for students using Reaching All Readers at the kindergarten, first grade, and third grade levels. The percentage of students reaching grade-appropriate levels in the second grade remained the same for students using Reaching All Readers.
Teachers’ evaluations of the Reaching All Readers program were extremely positive. In almost all areas, the teachers using Reaching All Readers were substantially more positive about their materials than the teachers using other programs.
Teachers saw Reaching All Readers as a unique program. Many indicated that the program provided them with new ways to conduct reading interventions. They reported that the program is very effective in helping students develop along key dimensions, including building vocabulary and improving comprehension skills. Teachers also reported that Reaching All Readers was very effective with ELL students and students with cognitive delays. In their assessments of key characteristics, teachers using Reaching All Readers indicated that their materials were highly engaging to students and effective at motivating students to read. The teachers in the experimental group were significantly more positive about their materials on these key dimensions than teachers using other materials. Overall, the teachers using Reaching All Readers were very positive about the ease of implementation of the program, its effectiveness in complementing their basal reading programs, and the program’s effectiveness in facilitating the intensification of intervention.
All teachers also evaluated specific components of their reading intervention programs. The teachers using Reaching All Readers were extremely positive about the intervention readers in the program. They indicated that the readers were leveled effectively and were well balanced between fiction and nonfiction; and they indicated that the students found the readers very engaging. The teachers using Reaching All Readers were also very positive about the Teacher Guide in the program. They were significantly more positive about their Teacher Guide than teachers using other materials.
The evaluations provided by the teachers using Reaching All Readers reported that, although they found the Teaching Routine Cards helpful, they did not see the need to use them with great frequency. Many also indicated that they did not use the assessment resources contained in Reaching All Readers. They explained that they were already obligated to administer several other assessments. So, they did not see the need, or have the time, to utilize the assessment resources in the program.