In the context of current educational challenges, the state of reading in middle schools remains a critical concern. Many students at this level struggle with reading proficiency, leading to significant learning gaps and hindering their academic progress. The inability to comprehend and engage with complex texts not only affects their performance in language arts but also hampers their learning in other subjects.
A study published in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk presents findings from a one-year evaluation of Readable English. This intervention aims to improve middle school students’ reading skills by providing explicit instruction in linguistics components and comprehension strategies.
The evaluation, conducted by Joanne Coggins at Middle Tennessee State University, involved four schools, seventeen teachers, and 344 MTSS/RTI Tiers-2 and -3 and Special Education students in grades 6-8 from three neighboring rural districts in Indiana. Eligible students from one of the districts were randomly assigned to either the Readable English treatment condition or the typical practice condition, whereas students from the other districts were randomly selected for treatment and control from schools that either used Readable English or did not. Students in the intervention group used Readable English as a whole class and in small groups during the regular ELA instruction block. Readable English utilizes adaptive technology, including a conversion tool that aids in reading grade-level curriculum, and scripted lessons that initially focus on phonics and phonemic skills, later incorporates word-level decoding and encoding, and ultimately combines fluency skills with reading comprehension, writing, and vocabulary-building.
The results indicate that students in the intervention group showed significant improvements in reading fluency and comprehension compared to the control group. Specifically, on measures of EasyCBM, Readable English students significantly outperformed control students on Passage Comprehension (effect size = +0.10) and Passage Reading Fluency Rate and Accuracy (effect size = +0.18 and +0.08 respectively). Given that scores of middle school students grapple with reading difficulties coupled with the dearth of experimental studies identifying effective remediation for these adolescents, this study of Readable English shows promise in bridging learning gaps and promoting academic success.
Source (Open Access): Coggins, J. (2023). Righting reading in middle school: Readable English helps underperforming adolescent readers. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 0(0), 1–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/10824669.2023.2216934