Study: San Diego reading reforms worked

San Diego’s Blueprint for Student Success, a reading program pushed by Superintendent Alan Bersin was unpopular. So was Bersin, who was pushed out in 2005; the program was dropped. But it worked for elementary and middle school students, though not for high school students, concludes a study by the Public Policy Institute of California. From Educated Guess:

The Blueprint consisted of extra classroom time for reading development – through combinations of summer school, an extended day, and longer  English classes  — and teacher training. It was districtwide and comprehensive, with teachers in every school given professional development and peer coaches.

Co-authors Julian Betts, chair of economics at the University of California-San Diego, Andrew Zau, a senior statistician at the university, and Cory Koedell, an assistant economics professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia, found particularly big jumps in scores of struggling middle school students who were assigned double-length English classes and ninth graders behind grade level who were given triple-length English classes. They experienced “very big shifts” in scores: 12.6 percentile points higher than expected without intervention at the end of three years.

In elementary schools, an extended year for lowest achieving “focus schools” also brought up scores significantly. Less effective was  an extended day reading program, in which first through ninth grade students lagging behind their peers were assigned three 90-minute periods each week of supervised reading before or after school.

In high school, students assigned to double- and triple-length classes did worse.

The program did not lower math scores or increase absenteeism or the drop-out rate, as some had feared.

Elementary and middle schools should replicate the blueprint, the researchers advise. High school is too late.

Inside School Research has more.

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