This experimental/comparison study of secondary-level, small-group instruction included 318 first- and second-grade students (170 ELL and 148 English-only) from six elementary schools. All schools served high numbers of ELL students with varying school SES in urban and suburban communities. Experimental schools implemented a three-tier model of intervention. In addition to primary-tier reading instruction, the second-tier, small-group experimental interventions included use of (a) evidence-based direct instruction reading curricula that explicitly targeted skills such as phonological/phonemic awareness, letter-sound recognition, alphabetic decoding, fluency building and comprehension skills; and (b) small groups of 3 to 6 students. Students at comparison schools were not exposed to a three-tier reading program but received (a) an ESL intervention using balanced literacy instruction with a focus on word study, group and individual story reading, and writing activities; and (b) small groups of 6 to 15 students. The ESL/balanced literacy intervention was generally in addition to primary reading instruction. Results indicated generally higher gains for ELL students enrolled in direct instruction interventions. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Response to Intervention