Experiment on the Effects of Systematic Phonics Instruction for Low-SES Early Readers.

Last registered on July 09, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Experiment on the Effects of Systematic Phonics Instruction for Low-SES Early Readers.
Initial registration date
July 09, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 09, 2021, 12:47 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Vanderbilt University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We examine the impact of systematic phonics instruction on low-SES seventh grade early readers’ English reading ability in rural China using a teacher-level randomized experiment. English teachers in the treatment group received systematic phonics training, while teachers in the control group used the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). We aim to examine whether the new English teaching method has more significant effect on children's reading achievement.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Zhang, Xinjie. 2021. "Experiment on the Effects of Systematic Phonics Instruction for Low-SES Early Readers.." AEA RCT Registry. July 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7941-1.0
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Students' reading score, students' English learning attitudes and teachers' teaching belief.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment is being conducted in field with 4552 low-SES early readers (at grade seven when students start to formally learn English) in one of the national-level poverty-stricken counties in southwestern China. According to the students’ paper-and-pencil baseline English scores and surveys of teacher attitudes towards IPA instruction at the end of September 2020, we randomly assigned 36 English teachers to the treatment group where the systematic phonics training was provided for teachers and phonics instruction was provided for their students. The remaining 32 English teachers were in the control group where the English teaching and learning were proceeding as usual. We will examine whether the students' reading score could be improved if the new teaching method (phonics) is used.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
68 teachers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
4500 students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
36 teachers in treatment group and 32 teachers in control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials