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Jim Hill High School

Empirical Research- Early Intervention

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Empirical Research

The Importance of Early Intervention in Education Programs



Coyne, M. D., Kame’enui, E. J., Simmons, D. C., & Harn, B. A. (2004). Beginning reading instruction as inoculation or insulin: First-grade reading performance of strong responders to kindergarten intervention. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(2), 90- 104.



The purpose of this article is to evaluate the effectiveness and importance of reading intervention programs. The author’s hypothesis is that positive short-term effects gained through early intervention can only be maintained with continued intervention support. Factors that may impact the intervention include student factors (phonological awareness), instructional factors (time of initiation), and methodological factors (time of follow-up).



The setting for the study was seven elementary schools in two suburban school districts in western Oregon. In one district, 89% of the students were European American and the percentage of the student population living in poverty was 18%. In the other district, 90% of the students were European American and the percentage of the student population living in poverty was 17%.


Populations/Participants/Research Subjects:

Kindergarten students in the original study were screened using the Onset Recognition Fluency (OnRF) and the Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) subtests from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). To be considered at risk, students were required to score less than 11 onsets per minute on the OnRF and to name less than 6 letters per minute on the LNF. In October of kindergarten, 112 identified at risk students were randomly assigned to one of three interventions, which consisted of 30 minutes of instruction a day between November and May. Participants in the present study included the strongest responders who took part in the kindergarten interventions. They were identified by screening all students who had participated in the kindergarten study on phonological awareness and letter-sound correspondence in October of first grade. A total of 59 students were identified as strong responders. Participants included 36 boys and 23 girls. Of these, there were 49 European American students, 9 Hispanic students, and 1 African American student.



-Participants were ranked within each school by their schools on the NWF, paired, and randomly assigned to one of two instructional conditions. Students in both groups participated in all general classroom code-based reading instruction. Students in the experimental condition received an additional 30 minutes of intervention daily over the course of 50 instructional days between November and February.

-The seven elementary schools used one of the following beginning reading programs: Open Court, Read Well, or Reading Mastery.

-The first 15 minutes of the intervention focused on enhancing phonological awareness and alphabetic skills. The second 15 minutes focused on providing students with practice in reading words.


Data Collection and Analysis Measures:

The following tests were administered: Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, Oral Reading Fluency, Word Identification Subtest, and the Passage Comprehension Subtest.


Results and Findings:

-Effects on Reading Performance in February

There were no significant group effects for any measure. Participation in a supplemental maintenance intervention did not present any benefits in addition to those attributable to the general reading instruction provided in the general classroom. One reason is that the supplemental intervention may have been redundant and unnecessary for the students.

-Absolute Level of Performance in February

The participants gained standard score points between pretest and posttest. The participants were performing above average in real word and non-word reading and average in reading comprehension compared to a national sample. They had fewer low-performing students than did the district. The growth of the sample between September and January was comparable to the growth of the district.


Conclusions and Recommendations:

The study proved that between 75% and 100% of kindergarteners at risk for reading difficulties can catch up by the beginning of first grade with effective, comprehensive reading interventions. Also, these students can continue to make progress through February of first grade without additional interventions. It is recommended that interventions be differentiated depending on the students’ needs and response to instruction.


My reaction to the Study:

            My hypothesis was correct in this study. I assumed that with specific interventions, kindergarteners at risk for reading difficulties will be able to catch up by the first grade. However, I did not think these students would continue to make progress through February of the first grade without additional interventions. The article stated that the students were provided reading instruction in their first grade classrooms that was similar in design, delivery, and focus to the kindergarten interventions. So as a result, the students continued to receive high-quality reading instruction in first grade. Knowing this, I do not think the students would have been as successful without this high-quality instruction that was so similar to the interventions. I agree with the author in that positive short-term effects gained through early intervention can only be maintained with continued intervention support.










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