Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills?

Last registered on December 03, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000551
Initial registration date
November 12, 2014
Last updated
December 03, 2015, 5:05 PM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Northwestern University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2013-04-01
End date
2015-10-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
There are large gaps in reading skills by family income among school-aged children in the United States. Correlational evidence suggests that reading skills are strongly related to the amount of reading students do outside of school. This trial aims to provide experimental evidence testing whether this relationship is causal. This trial is a randomized evaluation of a summer reading program called Project READS, which induces students to read more during the summer by mailing ten books to them, one per week.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Guryan, Jonathan, James S. Kim and David M. Quinn. 2015. "Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills?." AEA RCT Registry. December 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.551-2.0
Former Citation
Guryan, Jonathan et al. 2015. "Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills?." AEA RCT Registry. December 03. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/551/history/6204
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Project READS (Reading Enhances Achievement During Summer) is a voluntary scaffolded summer reading program with two primary components. In the spring, just prior to the end of the school year, students in the program are taught six lessons (each lasting approximately one hour) during the school day. These lessons are focused around reading strategies that are designed to help beginning readers to read outside of school, with limited or no adult supports. Parents are also invited with their children to attend an afterschool family literacy event focused on the READS comprehension activities. Then during the summer, each student is mailed 10 books, one per week. Students are tested for reading comprehension in the spring and fall. The spring test serves as a baseline measure of reading skills, and the fall test serves as a post-test.

The books are chosen to match each student’s reading skill level and reading interests as best as possible. Reading skill levels are measured using the spring baseline reading comprehension test, which are translated into Lexiles, a proprietary system designed to align reading skills with the difficulty of children’s books. Students are also asked questions about the types of books they would like to read. Using an algorithm, books are then chosen that best match each student’s interest among those that are the appropriate difficulty given the student’s baseline reading skill level.

We implemented Project READS for 2nd and 3rd graders in 463 classrooms in 59 public schools in 7 North Carolina school districts in the spring and summer of 2013. Students randomly selected to be in the treatment group were given six reading comprehension lessons in the spring that focused on reading activities designed to foster children’s engagement with books at home during the summer. Parents were also invited to an afterschool family literacy event where they learned about the READS activities. Treatment group students were then mailed 10 books, one per week, during the summer. The books were matched to students based on their baseline reading skill level and their interests. Students were encouraged to read the books, and were asked to mail a tri-fold after they read each book; the tri-fold included three comprehension questions about each book and a few questions designed to prompt the students to use the reading strategies taught during the spring lessons. Students assigned to the control group received no books during the summer, and participated in six mathematics lessons during the spring while the treatment students participated in the reading lessons.
Intervention Start Date
2013-04-01
Intervention End Date
2014-10-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Number of books read during the summer
Number of tri-folds returned
Tri-fold questions answered correctly
Enjoyment of books read during the summer
ITBS Fall Reading Comprehension
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Number of books read during the summer: Measured by self-report on a student survey.
Number of tri-folds returned: Count of number of tri-folds students returned during the summer. Students were sent a tri-fold with each book that was mailed to them and asked to return the tri-folds after they had read the book that was mailed with the tri-fold.
Tri-fold questions answered correctly: Count of tri-fold questions answered correctly. Each tri-fold included comprehension questions that referred to the book that was mailed with the tri-fold.
Enjoyment of books read during the summer: Measured by self-report on a student survey.
ITBS Fall Reading Comprehension: Standardized z-score.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Students in 2nd and 3rd grade in 59 public schools in North Carolina were invited to participate. Only those students who consented to participate were subject to random assignment. There were two randomization strata per classroom, one group that included all students who were both free or reduced price lunch eligible (FRL) and not limited English proficient (not LEP), and the other group that included all other students in the classroom. Within each stratum within each classroom, students were randomly selected to be in the treatment or control group. Students in the treatment group received a series of reading lessons in the spring, were mailed 10 books (one per week) during the summer, and were invited to a family night to explain the program and encourage participation.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was conducted by Jonathan Guryan in his office using the statistical software Stata on a computer.
Randomization Unit
Randomization was at the student level (within classroom).
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
6,383 students
Sample size: planned number of observations
6,383 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
3,174 students assigned to treatment (READS), 3,209 students assigned to control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard University Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research
IRB Approval Date
2014-10-23
IRB Approval Number
MOD-20091-06
IRB Name
Harvard University Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research
IRB Approval Date
2012-10-12
IRB Approval Number
F20091-106

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
September 09, 2013, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
October 01, 2013, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
59 schools (randomization was conducted at the student level within classrooms)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
5319
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Reads=2659; control=2660
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
There are large gaps in reading skills by family income among school-aged children in the United
States. Correlational evidence suggests that reading skills are strongly related to the amount of reading
students do outside of school. Experimental evidence testing whether this relationship is causal is lacking.
We report the results from a randomized evaluation of a summer reading program called Project READS,
which induces students to read more during the summer by mailing ten books to them, one per week.
Simple intent-to-treat estimates show that the program increased reading during the summer, and show
significant effects on reading comprehension test scores in the fall for third grade girls but not for third
grade boys or second graders of either gender. Analyses that take advantage of within-classroom random
assignment and cross-classroom variation in treatment effects show evidence that reading more books
generates increases in reading comprehension skills, particularly when students read carefully enough
to be able to answer basic questions about the books they read, and particularly for girls.
Citation
Guryan, J., Kim, J.S., & Quinn, D.M. (2014). Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in 463 Classrooms. NBER Working Paper.

Reports & Other Materials