The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Study tests the effectiveness of two supplemental literacy interventions targeted to striving ninth-grade readers — those with reading comprehension skills that are two to five years below grade level. The interventions that were selected before the start of the 2005 school year were (1) Reading Apprenticeship for Academic Literacy from WestEd and (2) Xtreme Reading from the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. This national study has unfolded over a five-year period and addresses the following questions:
• What challenges and successes did the high schools experience in implementing the reading interventions?
• What are the effects of these interventions on students’ reading skills and on other academic outcomes?
• For which subgroups of students are the programs most effective?
• What are the costs of these programs?
Overall, the findings from these reports show that over the course of ninth grade, the ERO programs improved students’ reading comprehension skills and helped them perform better academically in their high school course work. However, these benefits did not persist in the following school year, when students were no longer receiving the supports provided by the ERO programs. The key findings from the study follow (the statistical significance of all impact estimates in this report is evaluated at the 5 percent level):
• The ERO programs improved students’ reading comprehension skills over the course of ninth grade. Across both cohorts of participating ninth-grade students, the ERO programs improved students’ reading comprehension scores by an effect size of 0.09, corresponding to an improvement from the twenty-third percentile to the twenty-fifth percentile nationally. However, 77 percent of students assigned to the ERO classes were still reading at two or more years below grade level at the end of ninth grade.
• During the ninth grade, the ERO programs also had a positive impact on students’ academic performance in core subject areas. Students’ GPA in core subject areas (English language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics) was 0.06 point higher (out of a maximum of 4 points) as a result of being assigned to the ERO program (effect size = 0.07). The programs also helped students earn 0.6 percentage point more of the core credits that they need to graduate (effect size = 0.06). In the subset of high schools located in states where standardized tests are administered in ninth grade, students also scored higher on their English language arts and mathematics tests as a result of having been assigned to the ERO program; the estimated effect size of these impacts are 0.11 and 0.07, respectively.
• However, in the school year following students’ participation in the ERO programs, the programs no longer had an impact on academic performance. Estimated impacts on students’ GPA in core subject areas, credit accumulation, and standardized state test scores are not statistically significant in the school year following program participation (tenth grade for most students).
• The ERO programs did not increase students’ vocabulary scores, nor did the programs affect students’ reading behaviors or their school behaviors. The programs did not have a statistically significant impact on students’ vocabulary scores at the end of ninth grade. Nor did the programs have a statistically significant effect on how often students read school-related or non-school-related texts, or on how often students use the reading strategies taught by the two programs. Similarly, impacts on student attendance and suspensions were not statistically significant, in either the program year or the following school year.