Categories for Societal Outcomes

What Interventions Offer the Best Chances for Success for Secondary School Student Struggling with Reading?

April 23, 2018

A Synthesis of Quantitative Research on Reading Programs for Secondary Students

This review of the research on secondary reading programs focuses on 69 studies that used random assignment (n=62) or high-quality quasi-experiments (n=7) to evaluate outcomes of 51 programs on widely accepted measures of reading. Reading performance of students in America’s middle and high schools is one of the most important problems in education. In 2015, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP; NCES, 2016) reported that only 34% of eighth graders scored at or above proficiency. At the twelfth-grade level only 37% of students scored at or above proficiency. Given the importance of mastering reading for success in school it is important that schools adopt programs to help bridge the gap between current performance and expectations.

The study found programs using one-to-one and small-group tutoring (+0.14 to +0.28 effect size), cooperative learning (+0.10 effect size), whole-school approaches including organizational reforms such as teacher teams (+0.06 effect size), and writing-focused approaches (+0.13 effect size) showed positive outcomes. Individual approaches in a few other categories also showed positive impacts. These include programs emphasizing social studies/science, structured strategies, and personalized and group/personalization rotation approaches for struggling readers.

An important finding was programs providing a daily extra period of reading and those utilizing technology were no more effective, on average, than programs that did not provide these resources. This might not be as surprising as it appears on the surface. If students are struggling in reading, just placing them in a setting to read may only produce additional frustration and failure for those currently struggling with reading.

A few commonalities among programs that achieved positive outcomes are worth noting. One of these factors was that programs with positive outcomes tended to emphasize student motivation, student-to-student and student-to-teacher relationships, and social-emotional learning. An additional factor found in many of the promising programs is individualizing the intervention.

The findings are important suggesting interventions for secondary readers to improve struggling student’s chances of experiencing greater success in high school and better opportunities after graduation. Although, these effect sizes are small, given the large number of participants, smaller effect sizes would be anticipated and still may be of interest to school administrators.

Citation: Baye, A., Lake, C., Inns, A. & Slavin, R. E. (2018, January). A Synthesis of Quantitative Research on Reading Programs for Secondary Students. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research and Reform in Education.




Plan for Preventing Gun Violence in Schools

April 10, 2018

Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence

In response to the continuing gun violence in American schools, an interdisciplinary group of 19 scholars are proposing an eight-point plan to prevent future tragedies that have become common place in the nation. This one-page position statement proposes a public health approach to protecting children as well as adults from gun violence involves three levels of prevention: (1) universal approaches promoting safety and well-being for everyone; (2) practices for reducing risk and promoting protective factors for persons experiencing difficulties; and (3) interventions for individuals where violence is present or appears imminent.

Citation: Astor, R. et al. (2018). Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America. University of Virginia.




Discipline Disparities Persist

April 10, 2018

Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities

The US Government Accountability Office has recently released a new report evaluating the disproportionality in discipline in K-12 grades.  The racial and gender gap persists in spite of efforts to remediate.  African-American youth, boys, and individuals with disabilities are more likely to receive any type of discipline than are individuals in our sub-groups than would be predicted on the basis of their percentage of the population. In this evaluation, the disproportionality existed even though economic level of the student was controlled for.  Previously, it had been argued that the disproportionality was a function of poverty rather than race and gender.  This study challenges that argument.  These data highlight that as a society we still have a great deal of work to do to overcome racial and gender biases in this country.

Citation: United States Governmental Accountability Office (2018).  K-12 education: A guide for schools (GAO publication-18-258).  Retrieved from




How effective are school-based mental health interventions for children in elementary school?

March 21, 2018

The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis

News Summary: This meta-analysis examines the effects of school-based mental health services for elementary school-age children delivered by school personnel. Forty-three controlled trials evaluating 49,941 elementary school-age children met criteria for inclusion in this study. The study used a randomized, between-subjects, controlled comparison or quasi-experimental design using matched samples to minimize selection bias. The study finds school-based mental health services had a small to medium effect size (Hedges g = 0.39) in decreasing mental health problems. The largest effect size was for targeted intervention, (Hedges g = 0.76), followed by selective prevention (Hedges g = 0.67) compared with universal prevention (Hedges g = 0.29). Interventions integrated into student’s academic instruction using contingency management were found to have positive impacts (Hedges g = 0.57), and interventions implemented multiple times per week (Hedges g = 0.50) were also shown to have a notable impact for improving student’s lives. These results are promising considering the normal barriers that impede students from receiving mental health care outside of school and the fact 80% of mental health service are provided in schools by personnel who are readily available and are shown to be effective in addressing student’s mental health needs (Ringeisen, Henderson, and Hoagwood, 2003).


  • Targeted Intervention: interventions provided only to students identified as having mental health problems.
  • Universal prevention: interventions provided to all students in a classroom
  • Selective prevention: interventions provided only to students at risk for mental health problems according to a teacher referral or mental health screening

Citation: Sanchez, A. L., Cornacchio, D., Poznanski, B., Golik, A. M., Chou, T., & Comer, J. S. (2018). The effectiveness of school-based mental health services for elementary-aged children: a meta-analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry57(3), 153-165.





What We know About Literal and Inferential Comprehension

March 8, 2018

What We Know About Literal and Inferential Comprehension in Reading

In 2000, the National Reading Panel identified five practice elements with a sufficient evidence base to be deemed essential for mastery of reading (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). These elements consist of systematic teaching of phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, vocabulary, fluency, and exposure to reading comprehension strategies. Of these skill sets, reading comprehension has received far less attention in the literature, but is indispensable for success as student’s progress through the grades and use reading in almost every course. Being able to make effective inferences from materials that a student read is considered central to effective reading comprehension. This meta-analysis of 25 studies evaluates the impact of inference instruction in grades K-12. The study reported that inference instruction had an effect size d=0.58 on general comprehension and d= 0.68 on literal comprehension. These are “moderate to large” effects of instruction on general comprehension and to making inferences for both skilled and less skilled readers. The pattern differed for the literal measure, however, with skilled readers showing almost no gain but unskilled readers showing sizable gains. These findings support work by Daniel Willingham and Gail Lovette titled, “Can Reading Comprehension be Taught”? Their interpretation of the effect of comprehension instruction is that it signals to students the significance of inferential thinking. Willingham and Lovette conclude that practicing inferences does not lead to increases in general inferencing for the following reasons; inferencing depends on the particular text, and whatever cognitive processes contribute to inferencing are already well practiced in oral language as we are constantly drawing inferences in daily conversation.

Citation: Elleman, A. M. (2017). Examining the impact of inference instruction on the literal and inferential comprehension of skilled and less skilled readers: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(6), 761-781.

Willingham, D. T., & Lovette, G. (2014). Can reading comprehension be taught. Teachers College Record116, 1-3




High School Dropout and Completion Rates

March 2, 2018

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014 Report Released

The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) just released Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014.  This annual report provides descriptive data on long-term trends in dropout and completion rates.  It also reviews the characteristics of students in these categories including race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, disability status, immigration status, and outcomes in the labor force.  Results show improvement in overall outcomes, but continued and significant disparity among children of different races.  The 2014 ACS status dropout rate was lower for 16- to 24-year-olds who were Asian (2.5 percent), White (4.4 percent), and of two or more races (5.0 percent) than for those who were Black (7.9 percent), Pacific Islander (10.6 percent), Hispanic (10.7 percent), and American Indian/ Alaska Native (11.5 percent).   There was also significant disparity between individual states, ranging from 2.7 percent status dropout rates in Vermont to 10.6 percent in Louisiana.  High School graduation rates showed the same pattern of overall improvement but continued disparity by student race and individual states.

Citation:  McFarland, J., Cui, J., and Stark, P. (2018). Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014 (NCES 2018-117). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.




Annual Report Provides Descriptive Data on Demographics, Programs and Outcomes for K-12 and College Education

February 28, 2018

Digest of Education Statistics 2015 Report Released

News Summary:  The Digest of Education Statistics 2015 was just released by The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).  This annual publication provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of education from prekindergarten through graduate school. Topics include: the number of schools and colleges; teachers; enrollments; graduates; educational attainment; finances; federal funds for education; employment and income of graduates; libraries; technology; and international comparisons. It has been published annually since 1962, providing over 50 years of data with which to benchmark education performance at the system level in this country.

Citation:  Snyder, T.D., de Brey, C., and Dillow, S.A. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics 2016 (NCES 2017-094). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.




What interventions in schools have a positive impact on racially equitable disciplinary actions?

February 7, 2018

Promoting teachers’ implementation of culturally and contextually relevant class-wide behavior plans

News Summary: Research suggests students of differing racial groups are unequally impacted by school disciplinary interventions. This study examines whether teachers who self-assessed their own use of culturally and contextually relevant practices would implement a class-wide behavior plan with high levels of implementation fidelity. Results indicated that teachers who engaged in self-assessment and training did implement the plan with high levels of implementation fidelity, particularly when given performance feedback.

Citation: Fallon, L. M., Cathcart, S. C., DeFouw, E. R., O’Keeffe, B. V., & Sugai, G. Promoting teachers’ implementation of culturally and contextually relevant class‐wide behavior plans. Psychology in the Schools.




How effective are Tier 1 Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) reading instruction interventions?

January 22, 2018

The impact of tier 1 reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in Grades 4–12: A meta-analysis

This meta-analysis examines the impact of 1st tier reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in grades 4-12 in an Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) service delivery model. 37 studies met criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis. The study finds small, but positive effects for 1st tier reading instruction on comprehension, vocabulary, and indicates minimum evidence for struggling readers maintaining or improving reading comprehension over struggling students receiving typical instruction. Hedges’s g was used calculating effect sizes. Because of the limited number of studies examining phonics/word recognition and fluency instruction, it was not possible these critical instruction areas in this meta-analysis.

Citation: Swanson, E., Stevens, E. A., Scammacca, N. K., Capin, P., Stewart, A. A., & Austin, C. R. (2017). The impact of tier 1 reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in Grades 4–12: A meta-analysis. Reading and Writing30(8), 1639-1665.




How Can Schools Intervene to Reduce Sexual Harassment and Dating Violence?

December 18, 2017

A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Interventions Aimed to Prevent or Reduce Violence in Teen Dating Relationships

The issue of sexual harassment has been front page news this past year. What does the research tell us about school interventions designed to reduce sexual harassment? This meta-analysis examines research on the topic and provides insight into how effective current efforts are at stemming incidents of this serious problem. This review provides a quantitative synthesis of empirical evaluations of school-based programs implemented in middle and high schools designed to prevent or reduce incidents of dating violence. This meta-analysis of 23 studies indicates school-based programs having no significant impact on dating violence perpetration and victimization; however, they can have a positive influence on dating violence knowledge and student attitudes.

Citation: De La Rue, L., Polanin, J. R., Espelage, D. L., & Pigott, T. D. (2017). A meta-analysis of school-based interventions aimed to prevent or reduce violence in teen dating relationships. Review of Educational Research87(1), 7-34.


For more information on this topic please examine a Campbell Collaboration Systematic Review by the same authors: