Monday, February 2, 2015

Effects of Individualized and Standardized Interventions

Sharon Vaughn, Jade Wexler, Greg Roberts, Amy A. Barth, Paul T. Cirino, Melissa A. Romain, David Francis, Jack Fletcher, and Cynthia A. Denton, explored a Response to Intervention  processes with students in their study, Effects of Individualized and Standardized Interventions on Middle School Students with Reading Disabilities, published in Except Child, 2011 May.

Seventh and eighth grade students from two urban areas and 6 separate middle schools were targeted. In this study 182 students who did not respond adequately to a year of Tier 2 interventions for reading were identified and placed in one of three groups: standardized instruction, individualized instruction and a comparison group. Interventions occurred for 50 minutes per day in groups of four or five.

The standardized instructional group had three phases. Phase one focused on word study and fluency: repeated readings with progress tracking, REWARDS program word study for decoding multisyllabic words, vocabulary selected from text and comprehension via questions. Phase two focused on vocabulary and comprehension. Three days of REWARDS Plus Science instruction with reading and summarizing and two days of novel reading using REWARDS strategies. Phase three added application of skills and expository text.

The individualized plans began with examining test results and basing instructional priorities on needs profiles. Explicit word study (mostly Wilson Reading), comprehension strategies (mostly identify main idea and summarize), motivational components, and vocabulary work made up the daily plan.

Higher level decoding skills
Lower level decoding skills
35-45 minutes
100-110 minutes
Comprehension/text reading
170-180 minutes
70-80 minutes
Motivational skills
15-25 minutes
15-25 minutes

The minutes in the chart reflect minutes per week. Specific instructional objectives were determined on a weekly basis.

The study reports a detailed statistical analysis, but no individual results. Student assessment was also analyzed regarding participation of special education and English language learners. Overall treatment conditions both outperformed the control group in reading comprehension, but not for word reading, word attack or fluency.  There was no significant difference between the treatments. Students identified with learning disabilities performed worse  than those with limited English language proficiency. They did perform better in the standardized treatment condition than in the individualized condition.

One of the observations that the researchers make is that it is unlikely that middle school students with significant reading problems are going to make either "rapid or easily remediated progress" (p. 13) in reading. Difficulty with reading progress is compounded by the limitations of many of these students in regard to background knowledge. Consequently students will need more than two years of intervention to achieve grade level reading.

This brings into question whether teachers are able to adequately individualize instruction. Perhaps we are better off following standardized protocols than on trying to target goals and design instruction around them. It could be related to standardized programs following a strict scope and sequence rather than a more "random" approach involved in the individualized approach. Further complications in progress could be from the fact that Wilson is designed to be a daily one-on-one or all similar group intervention rather than a small group plan. Limiting the intensity of the plan may have resulted in somewhat slower progress for the students. Another possible source of problem is the teachers. While they received training before the intervention, we do not know their area of certification, experience teaching or expertise in reading instruction.

What we can conclude is that some intervention is better than none. That targeting all areas is important. We cannot assess whether instruction in areas other than comprehension were required for comprehension gains whether or not the other areas made progress or not. Does instruction in fluency at the middle school level not improve fluency so much as improve comprehension? Does it matter since ultimately comprehension is the benchmark by which we measure reading success?

No comments:

Post a Comment