To teach literacy is to change lives

Case Study

Data Driven Reading Interventions to Improve Gain Scores

Allison Stull Jurado

Background and Overview

The school in which this 2019–2020 case study took place is tucked away in a calm, residential, predominately middle-class neighborhood. Of the total 735 students enrolled at the school, 35.8 percent received free/reduced lunch, 81 percent were white, 10.9 percent Hispanic, 3.5 percent African American, 3.1 percent multiracial, 1.0 percent Asian, and 0.6 percent other. Additionally, 138 students were students with disabilities, 27 were students with a 504 Plan, and 19 were English Language Learners (ELLs). Baseline data was collected prior to implementation of the program.

Overall, in the 2018–2019 school year, 40 percent of the school’s lowest 25 percent of students (L25) made learning gains in reading. (In the prior academic year, 33 percent of those L25 students made learning gains.) Only 19 percent of students with disabilities made learning gains in reading during 2018–2019. Specific to fifth grade, the 2019–2020 case study determined that over 60 percent of this school’s L25 students and students with disabilities were not making adequate yearly learning gains in reading.

Sample and Team Members

This study impacted 110 fifth-grade students; all teachers were directed to utilize the reading intervention program and to see all their students at least three times a week. However, the specific aim of this project targeted L25 students in fifth grade. This worked out to be about 30 students. Eleven of those L25 students were also students with disabilities. These 30 L25 students were required to be seen for data-driven reading intervention using the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Intervention Program at least four times a week, every week. Each student was given a number from 1 to 30 and was referred to as that number throughout the study to track and analyze progress in reading. The study began at the beginning of the 2019–2020 school year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) data was unable to be obtained and utilized to track reading proficiency and growth data as a pre- and post-data assessment measure. Therefore, this study compared student performance on the 2018–2019 Spring Reading Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scores to their 2019–2020 Winter Reading Map Scores.

Five fifth-grade teachers––one Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) teacher and two Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teachers––were involved in implementing the interventions discussed in this project. Two of the fifth-grade teachers had extensive training in guided reading within the Literacy Footprints/Jan Richardson guided reading program, and both had been involved in ongoing data analysis at a Title 1 school for five years prior to transferring to this school site. The three other fifth-grade teachers received limited training in Jan Richardson Guided Reading and further chose other options as reading interventions with students. These three teachers also have had minimal experience with in-depth data analysis. Four of the five fifth-grade teachers have been teaching less than ten years, while the other has been teaching for over 20 years. The ASD and ESE teachers hadn’t had exposure to the Jan Richardson Guided Reading program and therefore lacked experience with data analysis in relation to delivering guided reading lessons. Up until this point, these teachers had relied on their own materials, knowledge, and resources to plan their small-group reading interventions. While the five general education teachers shared more than half of their L25 students with ESE, there had been little collaboration between the two about the data surrounding these students, the action plans to assist them, and their academic progress. Prior to this project, the general education and ESE teachers had essentially operated as separate entities. Table 1 of the appendix indicates who was providing reading intervention.

This action research study was conducted to examine the following question: How will using data to strategically plan for reading intervention using the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Program positively influence learning gains for L25 fifth-grade students and students with disabilities? Only seven out of the 30 total L25 students were provided reading intervention from their general education teacher. All others were pulled out to receive reading intervention by either an ESE teacher or Language Literacy Intervention (LLI) teacher. Prior to implementation of the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Intervention program, it was determined that during intervention time, teachers were using a hodgepodge of resources and materials. Their intervention time was piecemealed together without true consistency, collaboration, and communication between pull-out teachers and the general education teachers. Thus, it proved the need for one research-based guided reading intervention system. The researcher provided a three and a half-hour professional development to all five teachers. The researcher used this professional development time to provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to access their students’ data and use it to successfully plan lessons utilizing the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Program.

Pre- and Post-Data Analysis

The goal of this action research study was to analyze whether implementing and utilizing the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Program during reading intervention time with small groups of L25 students in fifth grade would affect their overall learning gains in reading. The results of this action research project would indicate that the use of the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Program did in fact have a positive effect on L25 student’s learning gains in reading, as determined by their 2018–2019 Spring Reading MAP scores compared to their 2019–2020 Winter Reading Map Scores.

A total of seven fifth-grade teachers and 30 L25 students were part of this action research study at the start. Five of those teachers stuck with the program with fidelity throughout the course of the year, while two teachers did not. Tables 2–8 breakdown individual student growth by reading MAP domain by teacher. This helps to illustrate how students whose teachers used the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Program with fidelity generally had better reading gains than those whose teachers did not use the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Intervention Program with fidelity. Figure 1 of the appendix clearly illustrates the positive outcomes of using the Literacy Footprints program versus not using it. Figure 1 has three columns. Each column starts with the overall growth for all 30 L25 students in the study regarding each domain of the reading MAP test: Overall RIT Growth score, Literary Text: Key Ideas and Details Growth score, Literary Text: Language, Craft, and Structure Growth score, Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details Growth score, Informational Text: Language, Craft, and Structure Growth score, and Vocabulary: Growth score. Each pie chart in Figure 1 indicates the percentage of L25 students who achieved gains from the pretest to the post test and the percentage of those that did not. The middle column indicates the percentage of students who made gains in each domain versus those who did not for just the teachers who utilized the Literacy Footprints program with fidelity. The final column indicates the percentage of students who made gains in each domain versus those who did not for just the teachers who did not utilize the Literacy Footprints program. Figure 1 illustrates that for each reading domain tested on the MAP reading pretest and post test, those teachers who used the program had students outperform the students whose teachers did not use the program.

Out of the 30 L25 students in this study, 63 percent of them made learning gains, as determined by their Overall RIT Growth score. When analyzed further, the teachers who utilized Literacy Footprints with fidelity had 78 percent of their students make learning gains, as determined by their Overall RIT Growth scores, while teachers who did not use the program only had 33 percent of their L25 students make learning gains, as determined by their Overall RIT Growth scores. This indicates that using the program yielded 45 percent more growth in learning gains than not using the program. In addition to analyzing Overall RIT Growth scores, each domain tested on MAP was also analyzed in the same way to determine growth scores of L25 students who were engaged in Literacy Footprints with fidelity on a daily basis versus those who were not.

For the Literary Text: Key Ideas and Details Growth domain, 64 percent of all 30 L25 students made gains. When analyzed further, the data indicated that teachers who used the program with fidelity had 70 percent of their L25 students make learning gains in this domain, while the teachers who did not use it with fidelity only had 56 percent of their students make learning gains in this domain. Overall, for this domain, teachers who used the program had 14 percent more learning gains with their L25 students than teachers who did not use it.

For the Literary Text: Language, Craft, and Structure Growth domain, the overall learning gains for the 30 L25 students was 64 percent. However, this number jumped when just the teachers who were using the program with fidelity were isolated. In this instance, 78 percent of their L25 students made learning gains in this domain. This is an extremely significant difference to the other teachers who were not using the program and who only had 22 percent of their L25 students make gains in this domain. This is a staggering 56 percent difference in learning gains between those who were engaged with Literacy Footprints and those who were not.

These same Literary Text content areas––Key Ideas and Details Growth and Language, Craft, and Structure Growth––were also assessed with Informational Text. For Key Ideas and Details Growth with Informational Text, all students had 64 percent learning growth gains. Again, we see this percentage increase when we look just at the teachers who used the program with fidelity. These teachers had 70 percent of L25 students make gains compared to only 33 percent of L25 students who made learning gains with teachers who did not use the program.

For Language, Craft, and Structure Growth with Informational Text, the same trend occurs again. Out of all L25 students from this study, 67 percent exhibited learning gains. When the teachers who were using the program were isolated, the amount of L25 students making learning gains jumped to 86 percent. This is a substantial increase compared to the 56 percent of L25 students who made gains with teachers who did not use the program. Meaning 30 percent more L25 students made learning gains with teachers who used the program compared to those who did not. This is significant when you consider such a vulnerable population within the school. The lowest 25 percent of students in every grade level count significantly towards a school’s overall letter grade, depending on their performance on end-of-the-year statewide assessments, and this data alone indicates that to help L25 students achieve learning gains, Literacy Footprints should be implemented.

The final domain, Vocabulary: Growth, was the most successful in learning gains for L25 students across the board with 90 percent of L25 students making gains in this area. Of the students whose teachers used Literacy Footprints with fidelity, there was 96 percent learning gains. Of the students whose teachers did not use Literacy Footprints, there was a decrease with 74 percent of L25s making learning gains. While the L25 students of teachers who did not use Literacy Footprints in this domain was still impressive growth, it is still more than 20 percent below that of the teacher who did use Literacy Footprints.

This data is further indicative of its reading success with students when you consider the data present with L25 ASD and ESE students. Tables 7 and 8 show that ten out of the 30 L25 students in this study were also ASD or ESE students. These tables show that eight out of these ten students made significant Overall RIT Growth gains in reading with their teachers who were using Literacy Footprints with fidelity during reading intervention. Seven out of these ten students made gains in the Literary Text: Key Ideas and Details Growth domain, with four of those seven gaining more than ten points. In the Literary Text: Language, Craft, and Structure Growth domain, seven out of these ten students made gains again, this time with five of those seven gaining ten or more points. For Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details Growth, six out of these ten students made learning gains. In the Informational Text: Language, Craft, and Structure Growth domain, eight out of these ten students made learning gains. Finally, for the Vocabulary: Growth domain, nine out of ten of these ASD and ESE students made learning gains, and five of those students gained ten or more points.

This data further solidifies the potential and success available for students when using the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Program. It indicates that not only is this program beneficial for lower-performing students, it is successful and beneficial for ASD and ESE learners as well. The data clearly shows that using the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading intervention program had a positive impact on the learning gains for the L25 fifth-grade students at this school.

Implications of the Data

The data from this case study is even more significant when you consider the point breakdown in the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) reading test for fifth graders .This test is out of 50 total points––18 of which are allotted for the Key Ideas and Details Growth domain, 15 allotted for the Language, Craft, and Structure Growth domain, ten points for the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Growth domain, and seven points for the Vocabulary: Growth domain. This means that roughly 80 percent of FSA encompasses the content from the MAP data described above. Therefore, students who are making gains, as determined by each MAP reading domain, will presumably make learning gains on FSA in these domains as well. When you consider the weight FSA has on these critical domains, it is clear that students using Literacy Footprints were better prepared for end-of-the-year testing than those who did not use the program. Additionally, this suggests that using the program with fidelity will not only increase MAP reading scores but will likely increase FSA reading scores as well, since the domains are directly related and are standards based. This information should be huge motivators for school districts and teachers who are considering the implementation of Literacy Footprints with fidelity.

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