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Abstract

First and 2nd graders ( N = 285) receiving Title 1 services received 1 of 3 kinds of classroom reading programs: direct instruction in letter–sound correspondences practiced in decodable text (direct code); less direct instruction in systematic sound–spelling patterns embedded in connected text (embedded code); and implicit instruction in the alphabetic code while reading connected text (implicit code). Children receiving direct code instruction improved in word reading at a faster rate and had higher word-recognition skills than those receiving implicit code instruction. Effects of instructional group on word recognition were moderated by initial levels of phonological processing and were most apparent in children with poorer initial phonological processing skills. Group differences in reading comprehension paralleled those for word recognition but were less robust. Groups did not differ in spelling achievement or in vocabulary growth. Results show advantages for reading instructional programs that emphasize explicit instruction in the alphabetic principle for at-risk children. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Journal of Educational Psychology
1998,
Vol. 90, No.
1,37-55
Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
0022-0663/98/$3.00
The Role of Instruction in Learning to Read:
Preventing Reading Failure in At-Risk Children
Barbara R. Foorman
University of Texas—Houston Medical School
Jack M. Fletcher
University of Texas—Houston Medical School
David J. Francis
University of Houston
Christopher Schatschneider
University of Houston
Paras Mehta
Arizona State University
First and 2nd graders (N = 28?) receiving Title I services received
1
of
3
kinds of classroom
reading programs: direct instruction in letter-sound correspondences practiced in decodable
text (direct code); less direct instruction in systematic sound-spelling patterns embedded in
connected text (embedded code); and implicit instruction in the alphabetic code while reading
connected text (implicit code). Children receiving direct code instruction improved in word
reading at a faster rate and had higher word-recognition skills than those receiving implicit
code instruction. Effects of instructional group on word recognition were moderated by initial
levels of phonological processing and were most apparent in children with poorer initial
phonological processing skills. Group differences in reading comprehension paralleled those
for word recognition but were less robust. Groups did not differ in spelling achievement or in
vocabulary growth. Results show advantages for reading instructional programs that
emphasize explicit instruction in the alphabetic principle for at-risk children.
Learning to speak one's native language is a natural process
in that explicit teaching is not required. Reading, in contrast,
has been called an "unnatural act" (Gough & Hillinger,
1980) to emphasize the fact that one's writing system relates
to speech in an arbitrary way and, therefore, has to be taught
(Liberman, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1989). What needs to
be taught is the alphabetic principle: that letters in a word
relate to speech in a conventional and intentional way. For
many children, insight into this principle will develop
through informal instruction at home and nondirective
activities at school. However, as many as one in five children
have difficulty learning to read (Lyon, 1995; Shaywitz,
Fletcher, & Shaywitz, 1994). There may always be a small
Barbara R. Foorman and Jack M. Fletcher, Department of
Pediatrics, University of Texas—Houston Medical School; David
J. Francis and Christopher Schatschneider, Department of Psychol-
ogy, University of Houston; Paras Mehta, Department of Psychol-
ogy, Arizona State University.
Portions of this article were presented at the meetings of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, Seattle,
Washington, February 18, 1997, and the American Educational
Research Association, Chicago, March 25,1997. This research was
supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development Grants HD30995 and HD28172.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Barbara
R.
Foorman, Center for
Academic
and Reading Skills, Univer-
sity of Texas—Houston Medical School, 7000 Fannin, UCT #860,
Houston,
Texas
77030.
Electronic mail
may be sent to
bfborman@pedl.
med.uth.tmc.edu.
percentage of children who are at risk of reading failure for a
variety of cognitive, linguistic, or social-emotional factors.
However, in urban settings, there are entire schools in which
reading failure is the norm, in part because of lack of home
preparation in understanding the alphabetic principle (Ad-
ams,
1990) and also because of inadequate instruction in the
classroom (Slavin, Karweit, & Wasik, 1994). The impor-
tance of learning to read in the early grades is clearly
illustrated in a longitudinal study that addressed long-term
development of reading skills from kindergarten to Grade 9
(Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1996).
This study showed that, on average, children who were poor
readers in Grade 3 did not "catch up" to their peers in their
reading skills; the growth of reading skills fit a deficit, not a
lag,
model. Moreover, 74% of children who were poor
readers in Grade 3 were poor readers in Grade 9.
In the last two decades, a scientific body of evidence has
accumulated pointing to a phonological processing deficit as
the core cause of poor reading (Fletcher et aL, 1994;
Foorman, Francis, Fletcher, & Lynn, 1996; Liberman et al.,
1989;
Stanovich & Siegel, 1994; Wagner, Torgesen, &
Rashotte, 1994). Burgeoning evidence exists that deficits in
this area can be ameliorated through appropriate training,
particularly with younger children in kindergarten through
Grade 2 (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Bradley & Bryant, 1983;
Foorman, Francis, Shaywitz, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1997a;
Torgesen, 1997; Vellutino et al., 1996) or as early as
preschool (Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1991, 1993, 1995).
Ball and Blachman (1991) and Foorman et al. (1997a)
supplemented kindergarten programs for children at risk for
37
38FOORMAN, FRANCIS, FLETCHER, SCHATSCHNEIDER, AND MEHTA
reading problems with activities and tasks involving phono-
logical awareness skills. Both studies showed clearly that
the supplementation of standard kindergarten curriculums
with activities involving phonological awareness skills re-
sulted in growth in phonological awareness skills relative to
children who received the standard curriculum without
phonological awareness skills. The studies also showed that
these gains continued and were also manifested in areas
involving word reading in the first and second grades (see
Foorman, Francis, Beeler, Winikates, & Fletcher, 1997).
Vellutino et al. (1996) provided either one or two semes-
ters (depending on progress) of 30 min daily, one-on-one
tutoring to poor readers in Grade 1. The tutoring in letter
identification, phoneme awareness, word-reading skills, and
practice in connected text helped the majority of these
children become average readers. Torgesen (1997) found
that 20 min a day for 80 hr of one-on-one tutoring in
phonological decoding strategies (with or without training in
articulatory gestures) and practice in reading and writing
enabled approximately 75% of first graders who had been in
the bottom 10th percentile in phonological skills in kinder-
garten to move to national averages in timed and untimed
decoding. Similar results were achieved with older, severely
disabled readers (age 10 years on average); however, the
one-on-one tutoring was much more intensive—2 hr daily
for 80 hr—and decoding accuracy but not speed reached
national averages. Olson, Wise, Ring, and Johnson (1997)
had similar results with third to sixth graders below the 10th
percentile in word recognition who were tutored individu-
ally in phonological decoding strategies (with or without
training in articulatory gestures).
The efficacy of the interventions in these studies, which
emphasized tutorial interventions, is interesting in relation to
older studies that also focus on early intervention. In
summarizing these programs, Slavin and his colleagues
(Slavin, Karweit, & Madden, 1989; Slavin et al., 1994)
noted that the most widely used supplementary-remedial
programs, diagnostic-prescriptive pullout programs pro-
vided under Title 1 programs for economically disadvan-
taged children, showed little evidence of effectiveness
unless they involved one-on-one tutoring. Moreover, the
attempt to mainstream at-risk children by having Title 1 or
special education aides work in the regular classroom has
been no more effective than the pullout model (Archam-
bault, 1989; Puma, Jones, Rock, & Fernandez, 1993).
In contrast, kindergarten or first-grade prevention pro-
grams and classroom change models have proved effective.
The only prevention programs for which data are available
on long-term effects of intensive reading instruction in the
early grades are Reading Recovery (Pinnell, Lyons, DeFord,
Bryk, & Seltzer, 1994; Shanahan & Barr, 1995) and Success
for All (Slavin, Madden, Dolan & Wasik, 1996). In evalua-
tions of Reading Recovery, first graders tutored daily for 30
min by a trained Reading Recovery tutor exceeded matched
control children's reading performance with an effect size of
.87.
This effect size fell to .45 and .29 one and two years
later, respectively, without additional intervention. More
recent analysis of the effects of Reading Recovery continue
to show large effect sizes that diminish over time. Reading
Recovery can more quickly recover children to middle
reading group levels if it is modified to include direct
instruction in the alphabetic code (Iverson & Tunmer, 1993),
and other programs may provide equally large effects
without the tutorial component (Shanahan & Barr, 1995).
Classroom change models are based on the assumption
that the best way to minimize the need for remedial services
is to provide the best possible classroom instruction in the
first place. A more traditional kind of classroom change
model is what Slavin et
al.
(1989) referred to as "continuous
progress models.'* Students in these classrooms proceed at
their own pace through a sequence of well-defined instruc-
tional objectives. They are taught in small groups on the
basis of skill level and are frequently assessed and regrouped
on the basis of these assessments. The best known of these
programs is DISTAR (Engelmann & Bruner, 1995; now
SRA Reading Mastery), a highly structured and scripted
program that has produced positive results in many large-
scale studies (see Aukerman, 1984; Shanahan & Barr, 1995).
Although programs such as Reading Recovery, SRA
Reading Mastery, and Success for All show good efficacy,
they have not attempted to isolate the components of
effective reading instruction. Current research suggests that
a necessary skill to be mastered in learning to read in the
early grades is decoding. Decoding typically refers to the
application of the letter-sound correspondences taught in
phonics. Although decoding is more accurately described as
deciphering the printed word, and phonic rules may simply
play an attentional role in the weightings of connections
between orthographic and phonological units (Adams, 1990;
Foorman, 1994), decoding accuracy is the single best
predictor of reading comprehension (Stanovich, 1990; Vel-
lutino, 1991). Thus, an instructional focus on developing
decoding skills early in school is consistent with the
relationship of decoding skills and comprehension, espe-
cially for children whose only chance to learn to read is in
school. An important question is how explicit decoding
instruction needs to be, whether highly explicit through
decontextualized letter-sound correspondence rules prac-
ticed in controlled vocabulary text or implicit through
incidental learning gained by feedback on reading literature.
"The Great Debate" over code-emphasis versus meaning-
emphasis approaches to reading captures the extremes of
this continuum of explicitness (Chall, 1983; Foorman,
1995a, 1995b). However, there is the middle ground of
embedded-phonics approaches in which instruction in letter-
sounds and spelling patterns is contextualized within litera-
ture selections.
In the present article, we investigated questions involving
the degree of explicitness in alphabetic code instruction and
effects of phonological processing on growth in word
reading in children at risk for reading failure traditionally
served in Title 1 programs. In a large sample of children
receiving Title 1 services, we hypothesized that children
who received explicit instruction in the alphabetic principle
with an emphasis on letter-sound correspondences would
show greater growth over 1 school year of classroom
instruction relative to children receiving less explicit instruc-
tion focusing on spelling patterns or children receiving
ROLE
OF
INSTRUCTION
IN
LEARNING
TO
READ39
implicit instruction
in the
alphabetic principle.
We
also
hypothesized that this growth
in
reading skills would
be
moderated by initial phonological processing skills.
Table
1
Study Design and School Characteristics
Method
Participants
Participants were
285 of the 375
children
in
first
and
second
grades eligible
for
services under Title
1
funding
in an
urban
district with 19 elementary schools. The 90 children were excluded
from the present analyses because they had been placed
on a
wait
list
and
never
did
receive Title
1
services during
the
study. Thus,
analyses
are
restricted
to
those eligible students
who
actually
received tutoring during the year.
Title
1
refers
to
federal funding provided
for
economically
disadvantaged children with low achievement. Economic disadvan-
tage
is
usually denned
in
terms
of the
percentage
of
children
participating
in the
federal lunch program,
as it
was
in
this study.
Low achievement was defined by school district officials
as
scores
on the district's emergent literacy survey
in the
bottom quartile
in
first- and second-grade classrooms
at
each Title
1
school. Hence,
although
all
children
in the
lowest quartile received
the
classroom
interventions,
the
present sample represented
the
lowest
18%
because
of
lack
of
funds
for
tutoring.
The participating children attended
8 of the 10
Title
1-eligible
elementary schools
in
this district. (The Title
1
program was
in its
2nd year
of
implementation
in the
district.)
The
percentage
participation
in the
federal lunch program ranged from 32.3%
to
71.4%
at
the
8
schools. Thus,
the
participating children were only
those 3
to
8 children in each regular education classroom who were
served through Title 1
in
the participating schools. The non-Title
1
children
in
the classrooms were not participants
in
the study,
at the
request
of
district officials; however, they received
the
same
classroom curricula as the participating children.
School participation
was
determined
by the
willingness
of the
principal
and
teachers
to
participate.
The
design called
for
some
schools
to
have only
one
instructional approach
and for
others
to
have two approaches in an attempt to control for school effects. The
design
is
described
in
Table
1,
which provides information
on the
number
of
classrooms
per
grade receiving each
of the
four
curricula. No second-grade classrooms are listed
for
Schools
4
and
5 because Title 1 funds were available only
to
serve first graders.
Also,
it is
important
to
note that
the
school selected
by
district
officials
to be the
unseen comparison
had the
largest total enroll-
ment,
the
largest percentage
of
children participating
in
the federal
lunch program (71.4%),
and the
lowest achievement scores
on the
statewide test
in
Grade 3. To deal with what was widely perceived
as
a
"tough" school, district officials placed
a
well-respected
principal and Title
1
teachers
at
the school; nonetheless, the school
was not regarded
as a
desirable teaching assignment by classroom
teachers.
The ethnic composition
of the
sample
was as
follows:
60%
African American,
20%
Hispanic,
and 20%
White.
The
ethnic
composition
of
the district
at
large was approximately 20% Asian,
26%
African American, 23% Hispanic,
and
31%
White. Sixty-one
percent
of
the sample was male. Instructional groups did not differ
in age, gender,
or
ethnicity.
Instructional Methods
During
the
90-min daily language arts period,
the
children were
instructed
in
one
of
three classroom reading methods,
all of
which
existed within a literature-rich environment in the classroom: direct
School
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Enrollment
1,208
1,009
1,232
908
887
1,137
853
839
Federal
lunch
program
(%)
71.4
49.5
64.2
43.2
41.8
39.9
64.5
32.3
Grade
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
1
1
2
2
No.
classrooms
5
5
6
4
6
6
3
2
2
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
2
3
3
2
1
Curriculum
IC-S
IC-S
IC-R
IC-R
EC
IC-R
DC
DC
IC-R
DC
DC
IC-R
IC-S
EC
DC
EC
DC
IC-R
EC
IC-R
EC
Note.
IC-S =
implicit code-standard;
IC-R =
implicit code-
research; EC
=
embedded code; DC
=
direct code.
instruction
in
letter-sound correspondences practiced
in
decodable
text (direct code [DC]); less direct instruction
in
systematic
spelling patterns (onset rimes) embedded in connected text (embed-
ded code [EC]);
and
indirect, incidental instruction
in the
alpha-
betic code embedded in connected text (implicit code
[IC]).
The
IC
condition
was
either
the
district standard curriculum (IC-S)
or a
research implementation developed
to
ensure comparability
of
training across instructional approaches (IC-R). Each condition
was directed
by an
advanced graduate student
who had
been
a
teacher
and who had
expertise
in
professional development,
and
did not include the authors
of
this study.
In
DC the
emphasis
was on a
balance
of
phonemic awareness,
phonics (with blending
as the key
strategy),
and
literature activi-
ties,
using Open Court Reading's (1995) Collections
for
Young
Scholars. Phonemic awareness activities dominate
the
first
30
lessons
of
Open Court.
The 42
phonic rules
are
introduced
in
Lessons
II
through
100,
using sound-spelling cards, alliterative
stories,
and
controlled vocabulary text that practice
the
rule just
taught.
At
the same time decodable texts are used,
a
parallel strand
of
Big
Book reading occurs
so
that skills
in
oral language
comprehension
and
love
of
story
can be
developed. Spelling
dictation exercises move students from phonetic spellings toward
conventional spelling based
on
phonics knowledge
and
spelling
conventions. Writing workshop activities
and
anthologies
of fic-
tion, nonfiction, and poetry are introduced by mid Grade
1.
In
EC the
emphasis
was on
phonemic awareness
and
spelling
patterns
in
predictable books, using
an
adaptation
of
Hiebert, Colt,
Catto,
and Gary's (1992) program. Teachers providing EC instruc-
tion used
a
common list
of
sequenced spelling patterns
and a
guide
prepared
by
participating teachers that listed library books that
contained
the
spelling patterns
(see
Appendix
A for the
list
of
spelling patterns). Whole-class activities such
as
shared writing,
shared reading, choral
or
echo reading,
and
guided reading
40FOORMAN, FRANCIS, FLETCHER, SCHATSCHNEIDER, AND MEHTA
provided the context for EC instruction. In addition to a general
emphasis on a variety of comprehension strategies, EC teachers
used the following format in providing strategic guidance about
patterns of words: Initially, the teacher would frame a word
containing the target spelling pattern during a literacy activity (e.g.,
bat).
By deleting the initial phoneme (e.g., b), the pattern would be
extracted from the word (e.g., at). By substituting alternative
beginning sounds, students could extend the pattern to new words
(e.g., matf cat, hat). Then students were to identify the target
pattern as they encountered it in additional shared and independent
reading and writing activities. Finally, patterns were reviewed in
the context of reading and writing activities and were incorporated
into spelling
lists.
When the children were working in small groups,
they were able to practice these "make-and-break" activities with
magnetic letters and acetate boards, always writing down their
constructed words and reading their written constructions back to
the teacher.
At the time of this study, the staff development in this school
district emphasized an IC approach to reading instruction. Central
to this IC approach was the emphasis on a print-rich environment
with the following characteristics: teacher as facilitator rather than
director of learning; children's construction of meaning as central;
the integration of reading, spelling, and writing into literary
activities that provide a context for phonics; emphasis on class-
room interaction and on respone to literature; learning centers; and
assessment based on portfolios rather than norm-referenced tests
(see Routman,
1991;
Weaver, 1994), The 19 teachers who partici-
pated in the research version of IC worked with the project
director—an experienced doctoral-level teacher-trainer who es-
poused whole-lanaguage methods—to define the whole-language
philosophy behind their approach:
Whole language is a child centered philosophy of learning and
instruction, the implementation of which results in a risk-free,
supportive, language-rich environment. This environment is
ever-changing; changing to meet the needs of all participants,
teachers and students alike. Within this whole language
philosophy, students are given a wide variety of opportunities
to read, write, learn, and construct meaning within a meaning-
ful context. In this interactive, student-friendly learning
atmosphere, learning is not only active and meaningful, but
also fun, with the ultimate goal being to instill the desire for
life-long learning.
Because of the IC belief in children as readers and writers, even
at this "emergent" phase of first and second grades, the emphasis
was on learning to foster a competence rather than on learning to
perform a skill (see, e.g., Dahl & Freppon, 1995). The use of
predictable books and emphasis on writing in this IC approach
appear similar to those in the EC approach described previously.
However, in the EC approach, the teachers used a systematic list of
spelling patterns to teach an analogy strategy for decoding words.
In the IC approach, in contrast, the teacher used shared- and
guided-reading activities to draw children's attention to specific
words or word forms, letters, sounds, patterns, meanings, making
predictions, listening for rhymes, and exploring the use of strate-
gies,
grammar, language use, spellings, or key ideas in the text.
Thus,
the opportunity to learn the alphabetic code was incidental to
the act of making meaning from print.
In this study, there were 19 IC-R teachers, 20 EC teachers, 14
DC teachers, and 13 IC-S teachers, all of whom volunteered to
participate. The IC-S teachers delivered the district's standard
instructional method and were trained and supervised by district
personnel. Teachers delivering IC-R, EC, and DC were trained
during
1
week of summer in-service (30 hr) followed by retraining
and demonstration lessons 1 month into the school year. Training
was conducted by members of the research
staff,
all of whom had
previous elementary school teaching experience and were strong
proponents of the approach for which they were responsible.
During summer in-service, the staff members provided background
for the research, discussed instructional strategies relevant to then-
approach, and worked with teachers to develop a monitoring
checklist of the components of the curriculum being implemented.
To ensure adequacy of monitoring and control of time on task, all
primary reading instruction occurred in 30-min blocks as part of the
90-min language arts block mandated by the state. Because DC
used basal materials that were new to the teachers, a representative
from the publisher spent 1 day orienting the teachers to the
materials. The EC materials were also new, but the project director
for this component had considerable experience with onset-rime
approaches. During the school year, the research staff visited each
teacher's classroom every other week or more frequently, if
necessary, to monitor implementation of instruction and to provide
feedback on the quality of implementation. Instructional supervi-
sors from the district were available at each school to help teachers
with basic issues of classroom management, a resource that was
called on infrequently. Research staff members met with the
teachers of a particular grade level at each school during their
planning time to discuss instructional issues. Finally, to share
instructional strategies across sites, teachers implementing a com-
mon program in different schools came together after school three
times during the school year.
In addition to these 66 classroom teachers, 28 Title 1 teachers
delivered one-to-one or small-group tutorials with 3 to 5 students
for 30 min each day. In these tutorials, the instructional method
either matched that of the classroom or was the district's standard
tutorial based on Clay's (1991) method. Because the standard
tutorial was an IC approach, there was no mismatch condition for
children in the IC-S and IC-R groups.
Measures and Procedures
Teacher compliance and attitudes. During summer training,
the teachers in each instructional group and the research staff
developed a list of instructional components to be used for
bimonthly monitoring of instruction (see Appendix B for the list of
each instructional group). The teachers agreed that the monitoring
would take place during the 30-min section of the 90-min language
arts block, when the focus would be on the reading lesson (which
addressed at least the first four components of each instructional
approach listed in Appendix B). Occasional visits were made
during other times in the language arts block to see how writing and
spelling activities progressed and, in the case of the IC-R group,
were integrated with reading.
In addition to the checklist used for monitoring, lesson plans
were copied, kept, and reviewed as part of compliance. For the
monitoring checklist, independent raters were used, with extremely
high interrater reliability (^.80 for all raters). At the end of the
year, we asked the teachers to respond to five questions about their
instructional program (see Appendix C for the actual questions).
Using a scale ranging from 1 (definitely yes) to 5 (definitely no),
teachers responded to the first four questions asking whether they
would recommend the continued use of this approach to instruc-
tion. The fifth question asked about the match between the
instructional approach delivered and the teacher's beliefs about
how to teach children to read; response options ranged from an
exact match to not similar at all.
Measures given to estimate growth. Changes in vocabulary,
phonological processing, and word-reading skills were assessed
four times during the year, in October, December, February, and
April. To assess growth in receptive vocabulary, we administered
ROLE OF INSTRUCTION
IN
LEARNING TO READ41
the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R; Dunn &
Dunn, 1981) four times a
year.
Both forms (LandM) were used and
were alternated in two different sequences. To assess changes in
reading skills over the course of the intervention, we asked the
children individually to read 50 words aloud that were presented
one at a time on 4 X 6-in. cards. The words were matched for
frequency of occurrence (Carroll, Davies, & Richman, 1971), were
representative of a diversity of linguistic features, and spanned
first- through third-grade level of difficulty. Scores were based on
the number of words read aloud correctly out of
50.
Reliability for
the word list was excellent (internal consistency estimate of .9).
Concurrent and predictive validities for the word list were also
high, as evidenced by correlations exceeding .8 with the Letter
Word and Word Attack subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-
educational Battery-Revised (WJ-R; Woodcock & Johnson, 1989)
collected at the end of the year in our normative sample (Foorman
etal.,1996).
Phonological processing was measured by the synthesis and
analysis tests in the Torgesen-Wagner battery (Wagner, Torgesen,
& Rashotte, 1994; see also Foorman et al., 1996, 1997b). The
synthesis tests consisted of blending onset rime (m-ouse), blending
phonemes in real words
(f-a-t),
and blending phonemes in non-
words (m-i-b). The analysis tests consisted of (a) first sound
comparison (in which children were asked to point to the one
picture of three that started with the same sound as
a
target picture);
(b) elision (dropping the initial, final, or middle sound of a spoken
word);
(c) sound categorization (naming the nonrhyming word
from a set of four spoken words); and (d) segmentation of
a
spoken
word into phonemes. Each test consisted of demonstration items
and 15 test
items.
In this report we used estimated factor scores that
ranged continuously from 0 to
4.
Factor score weights were derived
from data on a large normative sample from the same school
district (Foorman et al., 1996).
End-of-year achievement and intellectual tests. At the end of
the year, we individually administered the Wechsler Intelligence
Scale for Children-Revised (Wechsler, 1974) and standardized
reading and spelling tests. For the reading tests, we used the WJ-R
(Woodcock & Johnson, 1989) to measure decoding (using the
Letter-Word Identification and Word Attack subtests) and reading
comprehension (using the Passage Comprehension subtest). We
used the Formal Reading Inventory (FRI; Wiederholt, 1986) to
measure comprehension of narrative and expository text. For
spelling we used the Spelling Dictation subtest from the Kaufman
Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA; Kaufman & Kaufman,
1985).
We did not administer a standardized reading test at the
beginning of the year because tests such as the WJ-R lack a
sufficient number of items to discriminate initial reading levels for
beginning readers and are not adequately sensitive to change over
short time intervals.
Attitude—experience. In addition to these measures of growth
in cognitive skills, academic outcomes, and intellectual abilities,
we also collected school attendance data and measures of
self-
esteem, reading attitudes and
experience,
behavior, and environmen-
tal information in the spring. We assessed self-esteem with a
pictorial version of Harter's (1982) Perceived Competence Scale
(Harter & Pike, 1984). The five domains of self-esteem assessed
were scholastic competence, athletic competence, social accep-
tance, physical appearance, and behavior or conduct. Children's
attitude toward reading was assessed with 11 questions about the
extent to which the child enjoyed reading (drawn from the work of
Juel, 1988) and 8 questions about whether the child engaged in a
variety of literacy experiences. Both the Harter scales and this
reading attitude-experience measure use a structure alternative
format to minimize the likelihood of the child making the socially
desirable response. For each item, children first decide whether the
statement is true or not true about themselves and then decide
whether the statement is sort of true or very true. For example, the
first item on the reading attitudes measure is "This child [pointing
to figure on examiner's left] likes people to read to him/her. This
child [pointing to figure on examiner's right] doesn't like people to
read to him/her. Which child is most like you? [Child chooses.] Is
this child a lot like you or just sort of like you?" Orientation of
positive and negative stems of questions and accompanying stick
figures varies randomly across items. Items on both the Harter and
the reading attitude measures are scored from
1
to 4.
Teacher evaluations. The Multigrade Inventory for Teachers
(MIT; Agronin, Holahan, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 1992) provided a
mechanism for the child's classroom teacher to record observations
on a rating scale that includes precise descriptions of a full range of
behavioral styles reflecting the child's processing capabilities,
adaptability, behavior, language, fine motor, and academic profi-
ciency. At the same time, the teacher is able to provide an overall
impression of that child's academic strengths and weaknesses and
also indicate concerns. The MIT includes 60 items coded by the
teacher on a scale ranging from 0
{never)
to 4
{often).
There are six
scales: Academic, Activity, Language, Dexterity, Behavior, and
Attention.
The teacher also completed an end-of-year evaluation, recording
the results of pupil placement team meetings and indicating any
special services received by the child, recommendations for the
next class placement, and recommendations for special services.
Grades, absences, tardiness, and results of hearing and visual
screening were also recorded. The teacher identified children
thought to have emotional, behavioral, or family problems.
Analysis
We used individual growth curves methodology to analyze
changes in phonological processing, word reading, and vocabulary.
These methods permit the estimation of
(a)
the mean rate of change
and an estimate of the extent to which the individual's growth
differs from this mean rate, and (b) correlates of change, which in
this investigation focused on effects resulting from the four
instructional groups but also included covariates of verbal IQ, age,
and ethnicity. In the analysis of growth in word reading, we also
examined the effects of initial level of phonological processing as a
correlate of growth and a moderator of instructional effects.
Individual growth parameters and correlates of change were
estimated using Hierarchical Linear Models-3 (HLM-3; Bryk &
Raudenbush, 1987, 1992; see Francis, Fletcher, Stuebing, David-
son, & Thompson, 1991; Francis et al., 1996; Rogosa, Brandt, &
Zimowski, 1982, for information on the application of individual
growth models in psychology and education). In addition to time
being nested within individuals, students were nested within
teacher, providing for a three-level model (time, student, teacher).
Although teachers are also nested within school, there was an
insufficient number of schools to model school-level variability, so
this factor was ignored in the analyses.
In analyzing instructional effects, we were first interested in
knowing whether IC-R (representing research-trained and moni-
tored instruction) differed from the district's standard (representing
district-trained and supervised instruction), tested atp <
.05.
Then,
to control for Type I error, we conducted Bonferroni-adjusted
pairwise comparisons among the three experimental approaches to
instruction with an alpha level of .0167 (or .05/3). In modeling
academic outcomes, we have ignored differences between IC-S and
DC and between IC-S and EC, because these curricula differ from
IC-S both in the explicitness of code instruction and in the training
of teachers to deliver the instruction. Comparison of IC-S to IC-R
provides information about the importance of the teacher-training
42FOORMAN, FRANCIS, FLETCHER, SCHATSCHNEIDER, AND MEHTA
component of the study, whereas comparisons among IC-R, DC,
and EC provide the critical information about instructional differ-
ences controlling for teacher training. In modeling changes over
time,
we centered age around the last occasion of measurement for
each child so that the intercept represented expected performance in
April. Because we expected older children to outperform younger
children, age differences between children at the final assessment
were measured as deviations from mean age and were used to
predict expected performance and change in performance.
To characterize the pattern of change over time, we fit models to
determine (a) whether growth was linear or curvilinear and (b)
which of the growth parameters varied across children. This
process involved fitting at least the following models: (a) straight
line growth with random intercepts and fixed slopes; (b) straight
line growth with random intercepts and slopes; (c) curvilinear
growth with random intercepts and fixed slopes and quadratic
terms;
(d) curvilinear growth with random intercepts and slopes
and fixed quadratic terms; and (e) curvilinear growth with random
intercepts, slopes, and quadratic terms. In all models, errors are
assumed to be independently and normally distributed with equal
variance over
time.
A
fixed
parameter has a value that does not vary
across participants, whereas a random parameter has a value that
differs across participants. If the mean value for a parameter was
not different from zero, and there was no evidence that the
parameter differed across participants, then the parameter was
dropped from the model. Growth curve analyses for reading,
vocabulary, and phonological processing showed that change could
be best modeled with linear and quadratic effects and random
slopes and intercepts.
Results
Tutoring Effects
We examined the size of the tutoring unit (one-to-one or
small group, i.e., 3-5 students with one teacher) and the
nature of the content of the tutorial (whether it matched or
did not match classroom instruction). The mismatch condi-
tion was available only for the two code-emphasis groups
because the district's standard tutorial—Reading Empower-
ment based on Clay's (1991) method—was matched with
the IC approach. Unfortunately, it was impossible to retain
the initial assignment to ratios of one-to-one or one-to-many
because the teachers needed to rearrange groupings to deal
with behavioral and learning problems. Thus, we calculated
the average number of days a student was in a 1:1 or 1 :many
ratio condition. This variable did not significantly predict
reading growth or outcomes. There was also no significant
effect of matched or mismatched tutorial content. Because of
the lack of tutoring effects, tutoring was ignored in subse-
quent analyses.
Compliance and Attitudes
Compliance data consisted of each teacher's total percent-
age of compliance in delivering the instructional practices
appropriate to her instructional group, as determined from
the research staff's monitoring data. Among the 53 class-
room teachers monitored (excluding the 13 IC-S teachers,
who were not monitored), compliance was generally very
high, a median of 80%, with a significant negative skew to
the distribution of
scores.
Four teachers had 0% compliance:
2 were in IC-R, 1 in DC, and 1 in EC. In all four cases, the
teachers were teaching reading but were not using the
research approach for which they had been trained. The DC
and EC teachers were doing the district standard IC-S, as
they had been doing for years. The two IC-R teachers were
decontextualizing phonics and spelling instruction with
work sheets they had purchased. Attempts to retrain and
redirect these four teachers met with repeated resistance. We
retained these teachers and their students' data in our
analyses because they are representative of the range of
teaching behaviors encountered in a study of this sort In
short, compliance of 49 of 53 classroom teachers was
excellent.
In addition to high compliance with instructional practice,
teachers also had positive atttitudes toward their instruc-
tional method. The distribution of responses for the teacher
attitude data for 48 of the 53 research-trained teachers are
presented in Table 2 (2 DC, 2 EC, and 1 IC-R teachers did
not return the survey). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) using
the Kruskal-Wallis test showed significant instructional
group differences on the following two questions: "If you
were responsible for curriculum decisions in your district,
would you recommend that resources (materials, staff devel-
opment, etc.) be provided for this instructional approach in
the future?", F(2, 44) - 3.58, p - .036; and "Would you
recommend the instructional approach you are using to a
colleague?", F(2, 44) = 5.23, p = 009. Pairwise contrasts
Table 2
Frequency Distributions for Teacher Attitude
Survey Data (%)
Question
1.
Recommend to district
DC
EC
IC-R
2.
Recommend to colleague
DC
EC
IC-R
3.
Recommend for all children
DC
EC
IC-R
4.
Recommend for special needs
DC
EC
tC-R
Exactly
match
5.
Matches my beliefs
DC 9
EC
IC-R 22
Frequency distributions
Definitely Endorse
yes
1
64
22
44
73
22
28
55
28
33
45
50
17
Very !
similar
82
61
50
2 3 4
36
50 17 11
39 17
27
50 11 17
50 17
27 18
39 17 11
39 28
27 27
28 11 11
44 28 11
Definitely
no
5
6
Somewhat Not similar
similar
9
39
28
at all
0
0
0
Note. DC = direct code; EC = embedded code; IC-R = implicit
code-research.
ROLE OF INSTRUCTION IN LEARNING TO READ43
revealed that DC teachers were more likely than EC teachers to
recommend their instruction to tiie district, F(l, 44) =
6.95,/?
<
.012.
Additionally, DC teachers were more likely than either EC
or IC-R teachers to recommend their instruction to a colleague,
F(l,
44) = 9.71, p < .003 and F(l, 44) = 6.80, p = .012,
respectively. Teachers in the DC, EC, and IC-R groups did not
differ in their attitude about recommending their approaches for
all children or for children with special needs or in the degree to
which the instruction they delivered matched their beliefs about
how to teach children to read.
Analyses of Baseline Differences in October
Means and standard deviations for phonological process-
ing and word-reading scores at each wave of data collection
are presented in Tables 3 and 4, respectively, for each
instructional group according to
grade.
Correlations between
phonological analysis and synthesis factors were greater
than .9 at each of the four time points. Therefore, we have
elected to present only the results for phonological analysis
here (subsequently to be referred to as phonological process-
ing).
ANOVA on October baseline scores in word reading
and in phonological processing (with age as a covariate)
showed no significant differences between instructional
groups, F(3, 272) =
.33,
p =
.81,
for word reading; and F(3,
271) = 1.87, p = .14, for phonological processing.
Growth
Curve
Analyses
The second graders had minimal reading skills, necessita-
ting the use of first-grade instructional materials with them.
Because all children were receiving the same grade-level
curriculum, analyses were conducted with age rather than
grade as a factor. Exploratory analyses showed that there
was no remaining variability in outcomes resulting from
grade once age effects were controlled.
Growth curve analyses were conducted using a three-level
model: time within child within classroom. All growth curve
analyses were conducted using HLM-3 software (Bryk &
Raudenbush, 1992). HLM-3 reports tests of fixed effects
using a t statistic and p value derived from the unit normal
distribution. As a measure of the effect of the instructional
group variable, we report A/?2, which is the proportion of
true,
between-teacher variance (Level 3) in a growth param-
eter that is accounted for by the instructional group variable
after controlling for all covariates (Bryk & Raudenbush,
1987;
Francis et al., 1991). This measure indicates how
much of the true, between-teacher variance in slopes and
intercepts is uniquely attributable to the instructional meth-
ods employed by the teachers. In addition, Cohen's standard-
ized effect size, / (Maxwell & Delaney, 1990), was com-
puted for curriculum effects as follows. For overall effects of
the instructional group variable, we computed the effect (ay)
for each group, where a; is the difference between the mean
value of a parameter (e.g., slope or intercept) in that
instructional group and the overall grand mean value for that
parameter, taking into account all covariates. The average
squared effect was then expressed relative to the HLM-3
estimated error variability in that parameter. This estimate is
not printed directly by HLM-3 but can be computed from
HLM-3's estimate of the reliability of the parameter and of
the systematic variance in the parameter. To estimate the
error variance in the instructional group mean growth
parameters, we calculated [(1
R)T]/R, where R is the
estimated reliability of the random parameter and T is the
estimated systematic variability in the parameter. These two
estimates were taken from the growth curve models that
included all covariates but did not include the instructional
group variable. The square root of this ratio (average
squared effect/error variance) gives the standardized effect
size,/.
Effect sizes are also reported for differences in growth
parameters between specific curricula. These were com-
puted by taking the mean parameter difference between the
two curricula and dividing by the square root of the error
variability, as just described. Effect sizes for end-of-year
outcomes were derived from SAS PROC MIXED (SAS
Institute, 1997) two-level random-effects models using a
similar approach. However, in these cases, error variability
was estimated as the residual variance in an unconditional
model divided by the average sample size per classroom.
Table 3
Factor Score Means, Standard
Deviations,
and Sample Sizes for Phonological Processing
at Each Wave of Data Collection
Instructional
group
Direct code
Grade 1
Grade2
Embedded code
Grade 1
Grade 2
Implicit code-research
Grade 1
Grade 2
Implicit code-standard
Grade 1
Grade 2
October
M
0.68
1.74
0.37
1.38
0.51
1.58
0.43
1.48
SD
0.54
0.80
0.36
0.74
0.55
0.62
0.50
0.70
n
44
14
49
36
57
28
24
24
December
M
1.34
2.06
0/72
1.61
0.93
1.89
0.90
1.76
SD
0.69
0.47
0.60
0.62
0.74
0.72
0.84
0.79
n
42
14
46
35
57
28
24
24
February
M
1.87
2.25
1.07
1.89
1.23
2.17
1.02
1.72
SD
0.74
0.69
0.69
0.71
0.87
0.79
0.75
0.63
n
39
14
41
29
55
27
23
23
M
2.16
2.51
1.59
2.18
1.53
2.21
1.22
1.90
April
SD
0.83
0.60
0.77
0.71
0.88
0.73
0.86
0.64
n
41
14
39
28
53
25
23
22
44FOORMAN, FRANCIS, FLETCHER, SCHATSCHNEIDER, AND MEHTA
Table 4
Raw Score Means, Standard
Deviation,
and Sample Sizes for
Word
Reading at Each
Wave
of Data Collection
Instructional
group
Direct code
Grade 1
Grade 2
Embedded code
Grade 1
Grade 2
Implicit code-research
Grade 1
Grade 2
Implicit code-standard
Grade 1
Grade 2
October
M
0.20
5.73
0.18
4.75
0.07
5.12
0.13
3.17
SD
0.51
6.66
0.88
4.92
0.32
5.24
0.61
4.90
n
AA
15
49
36
57
28
24
24
December
M
2.17
8.57
0.72
7.46
0.57
7.96
0.21
5.36
SD
2.95
7.69
1.61
6.77
1.20
6.97
1.02
7.31
n
42
14
46
35
58
28
24
24
February
M
6.44
12.71
1.90
12.86
1.20
10.93
0.57
9.13
SD
7.13
9.60
2.77
11.04
2,30
9.83
1.59
7.87
n
39
14
41
29
55
38
23
23
M
12.68
19.43
5.00
18.29
5.23
16.16
1.91
14.27
April
SD
10.21
10.03
8.15
12.02
7.20
14.32
2.81
9.35
n
41
14
39
28
53
25
23
22
Analysis of growth in phonological processing. In the
analysis of phonological processing, there were significant
differences between ethnic groups and individual differences
in age and verbal IQ. African American children had
significantly lower expected scores in April than the sample
average (t = 2.90, p = .004) but did not differ in slope or in
the quadratic trend (p > .05). Age at the final assessment
was a significant predictor of expected score in April
(/ = 4.75, p < .001) and slope (t = 3.01, p = .003). This
means that older children had higher April scores but
improved at a slower rate compared with younger children.
Verbal IQ was a significant predictor of expected score in
April, slope, and the quadratic effect (t = 6.86, p < .001;
t = 2.81, p = .005; and t = 4.05, p < .001, respectively).
Thus,
higher IQ children tended to have higher phonological
processing scores in April, but their rate of learning tended
to taper off in the latter part of the school year.
There were significant differences in growth in phonologi-
cal processing among the four instructional groups, control-
ling for ethnicity and for individual differences in age and
verbal IQ. The overall effect of instructional group was large
on both intercepts (&R2 = .88,/= 0.69) and slopes (A/?2 =
.86,/=
1.13).