Florida Center for Reading Research

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Passport to Literacy: FCRR Faculty to Examine Reading Intervention Program for Fourth Grade Students

October 23, 2013

Typical fourth grade reading lists include books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Lemonade War, and The Magic Thief. By fourth grade, most students have progressed onto chapter books and books with more complex storylines. For these students, they are well on their way to developing their reading skills and increasing their odds of academic success.

For the estimated 69 percent of fourth graders with disabilities and the 30 percent of fourth graders without disabilities who cannot read at basic levels, however, the implications go further than not being able to catch up with the reading lists of their peers. For these students, being sent into upper grades without sufficient reading skills increases their risk for academic failure and drop out, as well as their risk for future unemployment, low income and criminal activity.

With reading skills being linked to a much larger impact on students than simply test scores, programs that can improve students’ reading skills are of significant interest to schools. One such program that attempts to provide supplemental instruction in reading skills and strategies to struggling students is the Passport intervention program. The Passport program is intended for use for grades K-5 and blends teacher-led instruction, data-based decision-making and flexible grouping strategies. There has not yet been a rigorous evaluation of the efficacy of the Passport program.

Dr. Jeanne Wanzek of Florida State University is seeking to address this issue by examining the effectiveness of the Passport Intervention for fourth-grade students with (or at high risk for) reading disabilities. Dr. Wanzek’s study will look at fourth-grade students with in elementary schools in Florida and Texas.

The main objective for this study is to gain a better understanding of reading strategies for upper- elementary level students, which is why the study focuses on 4th grade students. “There is much more research on reading instruction in the early elementary grades than there is in the upper elementary grades,” said Dr. Wanzek. An evaluation of the effectiveness of a reading intervention program such as Passport will provide much-needed insight into how to better reach students in those upper-elementary levels.

With increased research such as this into improving reading outcomes for students, especially students with disabilities, schools will be able to better choose effective reading programs and instructional strategies to help get students on track for reading success.

For more details and information on the project, please visit the IES website for the grant at: http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1413.