System 44 was piloted during the 2009–2010 school year in a Central Indiana School District that serves approximately 12,000 students at 13 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 8 high schools. The district’s student population is 71% White, 10% Hispanic, 9% African American, 5% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 5% multiracial. Thirteen percent are students with disabilities and 11% are limited-English proficient (LEP). Over half (55%) qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
The district used System 44 with 159 students in one elementary school, one sixth-grade academy, one middle school (Grades 7–8), and one high school. System 44 was implemented in the district using a stand-alone model, for 50 to 120 minutes each day. Students were selected to participate in the intervention program if they scored below 400 Lexile® (L) measures on the Reading Inventory® and exhibited poor word-reading skills on the Phonics Inventory®.
During several years prior, the school district experienced an influx of Burmese refugees. Over half of the struggling readers placed in System 44 were identified as Pacific Islander, another 18% were White, 12% were Hispanic, and 8% were African American. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the System 44 sample was classified as LEP, 96% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 57% were male. Approximately one-third (31%) of the System 44 students were students with disabilities, with the most common classification being specific learning disability.
Phonics Inventory, Reading Inventory, the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), and the Woodcock-Johnson® III (WJ III® ) were administered to all System 44 students in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010. Results demonstrated that the Central Indiana System 44 students improved in word-reading skills, as measured by the Phonics Inventory. In spring 2010, after participation in System 44, over two-thirds (69%) of students scored at the Developing Decoder performance level or above as compared to 45% in fall 2009 (Graph 1). Improvement in Phonics Inventory word-reading Fluency was evident at all school levels with elementary school students achieving the largest average gains in Total Fluency (Graph 2).
System 44 students also exhibited improvement in reading comprehension skills, as measured by the Reading Inventory. Overall, the sample of students improved from an average of 112L to 220L over the year, a statistically significant gain of 108L (t=9.79, p=.00). Disaggregated results showed that LEP students and students with disabilities demonstrated significant growth on the Reading Inventory from fall to spring, averaging gains of 112L (t=9.11, p=.00) and 94L (t=4.41, p=.00), respectively.
Results from the WJ III revealed significant improvements in foundational reading skills. On average, System 44 students exhibited a statistically significant gain of 5 points (t=6.06, p=.00) on the WJ III. Furthermore, students with disabilities averaged a statistically significant gain of three points on the WJ III Basic Reading Skills (BRS), and LEP students averaged a significant gain of six points (Table 1).
On the TOWRE, System 44 students averaged a significant overall gain of two points in Total Word Reading Efficiency (t=2.06, p=.00). High school students evidenced a significant average gain of four points on the same measure (t=4.05, p=.00). Elementary school, middle school, students with disabilities, and LEP students also demonstrated gains on the TOWRE, though not statistically significant.