Secondary reading performance has drawn increasing attention in recent years. In a study published in Reading Research Quarterly, Baye and colleagues conducted a quantitative synthesis on the effectiveness of reading programs for secondary students. Sixty-nine studies that met high evidence standards were identified, including 62 randomized and 7 quasi-experimental designs. All studies included took place in the US and the UK.
Fifty-one programs were evaluated across all studies. The examined programs were divided into 10 categories. Among them, 7 categories showed positive overall weighted outcomes, including tutoring interventions (ES=+0.24), cooperative learning (ES=+0.10), whole-school approaches (ES=+0.06), writing-focused approaches (ES=+0.13), content-focused approaches (ES=+0.08), strategy-focused instruction (ES=+0.09), and group/personalization rotation (ES=+0.09), whereas vocabulary-focused approaches, personalization approaches, and intensive group approaches demonstrated no statistically significant positive outcomes.
Two cross-cutting factors, additional reading periods and technology applications, were also explored using random-effects models. The findings were as follows:
- No significant differences were found between studies providing extra reading periods and those that did not.
- Programs with extensive use of technology showed no greater impact than programs with little or no use of technology.
- Also, demographic and methodological factors were examined as moderators. Similar outcomes were found for struggling readers vs. all students and for middle vs. high schools.
- Promising outcomes were found for English learners.
- No significant moderating effects were found in terms of research designs (i.e., randomized vs. quasi-experimental designs, cluster vs. student-level designs).
In addition, authors summarized the commonalities among programs with positive outcomes: 1) emphasizing student motivation, peer relations, student-teacher relations, and socioemotional learning, and 2) supporting students to write well.