Reading and Writing

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1639–1665 | Cite as

The impact of tier 1 reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in Grades 4–12: A meta-analysis

  • Elizabeth SwansonEmail author
  • Elizabeth A. Stevens
  • Nancy K. Scammacca
  • Philip Capin
  • Alicia A. Stewart
  • Christy R. Austin


Understanding the efficacy of evidence-based reading practices delivered in the Tier 1 (i.e. general classroom) setting is critical to successful implementation of multi-tiered systems, meeting a diverse range of student learning needs, and providing high quality reading instruction across content areas. This meta-analysis presents evidence on the effects of Tier 1 reading instruction on the reading outcomes of students in Grades 4–12, and a synthesis of effects for students identified as struggling readers. Results from this meta-analysis of 37 publications conducted between 2000 and 2015 reveal significant, positive effects for Tier 1 reading instruction on comprehension and vocabulary outcomes. A synthesis of the results for struggling readers indicates that they maintained or improved reading comprehension over struggling readers receiving typical instruction.


Tier 1 Response to intervention Reading instruction Meta-analysis 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A150407 to The University of Texas at Austin. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.


  1. Abdi, H. (2007). Bonferroni and Šidák corrections for multiple comparisons. In N. J. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of measurement and statistics (Vol. 3, pp. 103–107). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Alfassi, M. (2009). The efficacy of a dialogic learning environment in fostering literacy. Reading Psychology, 30, 539–563. doi: 10.1080/02702710902733626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andreassen, R., & Braten, I. (2011). Implementation and effects of explicit reading comprehension instruction in fifth-grade classrooms. Learning and Instruction, 21, 520–537. doi: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2010.08.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumann, J. F., Edwards, E. C., Font, G., Tereshinski, C., Kame’enui, E. J., & Olejnik, S. (2002). Teaching morphemic and contextual analysis to fifth-grade students. Reading Research Quarterly, 37, 150–176. doi: 10.1598/rrq.37.2.3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bloom, H. S., Hill, C. J., Black, A. R., & Lipsey, M. W. (2008). Performance trajectories and performance gaps as achievement effect-size benchmarks for educational interventions. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 1, 289–328. doi: 10.1080/19345740802400072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Introduction to meta-analysis. Chichester: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2013). Comprehensive meta analysis (Version 3.3.070), Englewood, NJ: Biostat.Google Scholar
  8. Bowers, P., & Kirby, J. (2010). Effects of morphological instruction on vocabulary acquisition. Reading and Writing, 23, 515–537. doi: 10.1007/s11145-009-9172-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bui, Y., & Fagan, Y. (2013). The effects of an integrated reading comprehension strategy: A culturally responsive teaching approach for fifth-grade students’ reading comprehension. Preventing School Failure, 57, 59–69. doi: 10.1080/1045988x.2012.664581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chamberlain, A., Daniels, C., Madden, N., & Slavin, R. (2009). A randomized evaluation of the success for all middle school reading program. Middle Grades Research Journal, 2(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  11. Cheung, A. C., & Slavin, R. E. (2012). Effective reading programs for Spanish-dominant English language learners (ELLs) in the elementary grades: A synthesis of research. Review of Educational Research, 82, 351–395. doi: 10.3102/0034654312465472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cisco, B. K., & Padrón, Y. (2012). Investigating vocabulary and reading strategies with middle grades English language learners: A research synthesis. RMLE Online, 36(4), 1–23. doi: 10.1080/19404476.2012.11462097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper, H., Hedges, L. V., & Valentine, J. C. (Eds.). (2009). The handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  14. Duval, S., & Tweedie, R. (2000). Trim and fill: A simple funnel-plot–based method of testing and adjusting for publication bias in meta-analysis. Biometrics, 56, 455–463. doi: 10.1111/j.0006-341x.2000.00455.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ehri, L. C., Nunes, S. R., Willows, D. M., Schuster, B. V., Yaghoub-Zadeh, Z., & Shanahan, T. (2001). Phonemic awareness instruction helps children learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 250–287. doi: 10.1598/rrq.36.3.2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elleman, A. M., Lindo, E. J., Morphy, P., & Compton, D. L. (2009). The impact of vocabulary instruction on passage-level comprehension of school-age children: A meta-analysis. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2, 1–44. doi: 10.1080/19345740802539200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Faggella-Luby, M. N., Drew, S. V., & Schumaker, J. B. (2015). Not such a simple story: Contradictory evidence from a review of story structure research for students at-risk. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30, 61–75. doi: 10.1111/1drp.12057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fisher, Z., & Tipton, E. (2013). Robumeta: An R-package for robust variance estimation in meta-analysis. Retrieved from
  19. Fletcher, J. M., & Vaughn, S. (2009). Response to intervention: Preventing and remediating academic difficulties. Child Development Perspectives, 3, 30–37. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-8606.2008.00072.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Flynn, L. J., Zheng, X., & Swanson, H. (2012). Instructing struggling older readers: A selective meta-analysis of intervention research. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 27, 21–32. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5826.2011.00347.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fogarty, M., Oslund, E., Simmons, D., Davis, J. J., Simmons, L., Anderson, L., et al. (2014). Examining the effectiveness of a multicomponent reading comprehension intervention in middle schools: A focus on treatment fidelity. Educational Psychology Review, 26, 425–449. doi: 10.1007/s10648-014-9270-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fuchs, D., & Deshler, D. D. (2007). What we need to know about responsiveness to intervention (and shouldn’t be afraid to ask). Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 22, 129–136. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5826.2007.00237.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gayo, E., Deano, M., Conde, A., Ribeiro, I., Cadime, I., & Alfonso, S. (2014). Effect of an intervention program on the reading comprehension processes and strategies in 5th and 6th grade students. Psicothema, 26, 464–470. doi: 10.7334/psicothema2014.42.Google Scholar
  24. Guthrie, J., & Lutz Klauda, S. (2014). Effects of classroom practices on reading comprehension, engagement, and motivations for adolescents. Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 387–416. doi: 10.1002/rrq.81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gwet, K. (2001). Handbook of inter-rater reliability: How to estimate the level of agreement between two or multiple raters. Gaithersburg, MD: STATAXIS Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  26. Harris, M., Schumaker, J., & Deshler, D. D. (2011). The effects of strategic morphological analysis instruction on the vocabulary performance of secondary students with and without disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34, 17–33. doi: 10.1177/073194871103400102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hedges, L. V., Tipton, E., & Johnson, M. C. (2010). Robust variance estimation in meta-regression with dependent effect size estimates. Research Synthesis Methods, 1, 39–65. doi: 10.1002/jrsm.5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huff, J., & Nietfeld, J. (2009). Using strategy instruction and confidence judgments to improve metacognitive monitoring. Metacognition and Learning, 4, 161–176. doi: 10.1007/s11409-009-9042-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ismail, H., & Alexander, J. (2005). Learning within scripted and nonscripted peer-tutoring sessions: The Malaysian context. The Journal of Educational Research, 99, 67–77. doi: 10.3200/joer.99.2.67-77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Johnston, R., McGeown, S., & Watson, J. (2015). Long-term effects of synthetic versus analytic phonics teaching on the reading and spelling ability of 10 year old boys and girls. Reading and Writing, 25, 1365–1384. doi: 10.1007/s11145-011-9323-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kent, S., Wanzek, J., Swanson, E. A., & Vaughn, S. (2015). Team-based learning for students with high-incidence disabilities in high school social studies classrooms. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30, 3–14. doi: 10.1111/1drp.12048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., Arguelles, M. E., Hughes, M. T., & Leftwich, S. A. (2004). Collaborative strategic reading: “Real world” lessons from classroom teachers. Remedial and Special Education, 25, 291–302. doi: 10.1177/07419325040250050301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lemons, C. J., Fuchs, D., Gilbert, J. K., & Fuchs, L. S. (2014). Evidence-based practices in a changing world: Reconsidering the counterfactual in education research. Educational Researcher, 43, 242–252. doi: 10.3102/0013189X14539189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lesaux, N., Kieffer, M., Faller, S. E., & Kelley, J. (2010). The effectiveness and ease of implementation of an academic vocabulary intervention for linguistically diverse students in urban middle schools. Reading Research Quarterly, 45, 196–228. doi: 10.1598/rrq.45.2.3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lesaux, N., Kieffer, M., Kelley, J., & Harris, J. R. (2014). Effects of academic vocabulary instruction for linguistically diverse adolescents: Evidence from a randomized field trial. American Educational Research Journal, 51, 1–36. doi: 10.3102/0002831214532165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Levine, S. (2014). Making interpretation visible with an affect-based strategy. Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 283–303. doi: 10.1002/rrq.71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lubliner, S., & Smetana, L. (2005). The effects of comprehensive vocabulary instruction on title I students’ metacognitive word-learning skills and reading comprehension. Journal of Literacy Research, 37, 163–200. doi: 10.1207/s15548430j1r3702_3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McCown, M., & Thomason, G. (2014). Informational text comprehension: Its challenges and how collaborative strategic reading can help. Reading Improvement, 2, 237–253.Google Scholar
  39. Puzio, K., & Colby, G. T. (2013). Cooperative learning and literacy: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 6, 339–360. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2013.775683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Reichrath, E., de Witte, L. P., & Winkens, I. (2010). Interventions in general education for students with disabilities: A systematic review. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14, 563–580. doi: 10.1080/13603110802512484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reis, S. M., McCoach, D. B., Little, C., Muller, L., & Kaniskan, R. B. (2011). The effects of differentiated instruction and enrichment pedagogy on reading achievement in five elementary schools. American Educational Research Journal, 48, 462–501. doi: 10.3102/0002831210382891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reisman, A. (2012). Reading like a historian: A document-based history curriculum intervention in urban high schools. Cognition and Instruction, 30, 86–112. doi: 10.1080/07370008.2011.634081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reznitskaya, A., Kuo, L. J., Clark, A. M., Miller, B., Jadallah, M., Anderson, R. C., et al. (2009). Collaborative reasoning: A dialogic approach to group discussions. Cambridge journal of education, 39, 29–48. doi: 10.1080/03057640802701952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Scammacca, N., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., & Stuebing, K. (2015). A meta-analysis of interventions for struggling readers in Grades 4–12: 1980–2011. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48, 369–390. doi: 10.1177/0022219413504995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schunemann, N., Sporer, N., & Brunstein, J. (2013). Integrating self-regulation in whole-class reciprocal teaching: A moderator–mediator analysis of incremental effects on fifth graders’ reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38, 289–305. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2013.06.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shaaban, K. (2006). An initial study of the effects of cooperative learning on reading comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and motivation to read. Reading Psychology, 27, 377–403. doi: 10.1080/02702710600846613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shippen, M., Houchins, D. E., Calhoon, M. B., Furlow, C., & Sartor, D. (2006). The effects of comprehensive school reform models in reading for urban middle school students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 27, 322–328. doi: 10.1177/07419325060270060101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Simmons, D., Fogarty, M., Oslund, E. L., Simmons, L., Hairrell, A., Davis, J., et al. (2014). Integrating content knowledge-building and student-regulated comprehension practices in secondary english language arts classes. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7, 309–330. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2013.836766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Simmons, D., Hairrell, A., Edmonds, M., Vaughn, S., Larsen, R., Willson, V., et al. (2010). A comparison of multiple-strategy methods: Effects on fourth-grade students’ general and content-specific reading comprehension and vocabulary development. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3, 121–156. doi: 10.1080/19345741003596890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Slavin, R., Chamberlain, A., Daniels, C., & Madden, N. (2009). The reading edge: A randomized evaluation of a middle school cooperative reading program. Effective Education, 1, 13–26. doi: 10.1080/19415530903043631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stoeger, H., Sontag, C., & Ziegler, A. (2014). Impact of a teacher-led intervention on preference for self-regulated learning, finding main ideas in expository texts, and reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106, 799–814. doi: 10.1037/a0036035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Swanson, E., Hairrell, A., Kent, S., Ciullo, S., Wanzek, J. A., & Vaughn, S. (2012). A synthesis and meta-analysis of reading interventions using social studies content for students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47, 178–195. doi: 10.1177/0022219412451131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Swanson, H. L., Hoskyn, M., & Lee, C. (1999). Interventions for students with learning disabilities: A meta-analysis of treatment outcomes. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  54. Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., Petscher, Y., Heckert, J., Cavanaugh, C., et al. (2011). A synthesis of read-aloud interventions on early reading outcomes among preschool through third graders at risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44, 258–275. doi: 10.1177/0022219410378444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Swanson, E., Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., & Fall, A. M. (2015). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge among middle school students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 81, 426–442. doi: 10.1177/0014402914563704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. The National Center for Education Statistics (2015). The condition of education 2015 (NCES 2015-144). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  57. Tipton, E. (2015). Small sample adjustments for robust variance estimation with meta-regression. Psychological Methods, 20, 375–393. doi: 10.1037/met0000011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, What Works Clearinghouse. (2009). English Language Learner intervention report: Success for All™. Retrieved from
  59. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, What Works Clearinghouse. (2013). Beginning reading intervention report: Accelerated Reader™. Retrieved from
  60. Valentine, J. C., & Cooper, H. (2008). A systematic and transparent approach for assessing the methodological quality of intervention effectiveness research: The study design and implementation assessment device (Study DIAD). Psychological Methods, 13, 130–149. doi: 10.1037/1082-989X.13.2.130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Van Keer, H., & Verhaeghe, J. P. (2005). Comparing two teacher development programs for innovating reading comprehension instruction with regard to teachers’ experiences and student outcomes. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 543–562. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2005.03.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Vaughn, S., Elbaum, B. E., Wanzek, J., Scammacca, N., & Walker, M. A. (2014). Code sheet and guide for education-related intervention study syntheses. Austin, TX: The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk.Google Scholar
  63. Vaughn, S., & Fletcher, J. M. (2012). Response to intervention with secondary school students with reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45, 244–256. doi: 10.1177/0022219412442157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vaughn, S., & Fuchs, L. S. (2003). Redefining learning disabilities as inadequate response to instruction: The promise and potential problems. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18, 137–146. doi: 10.1111/1540-5826.00070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vaughn, S., Klingner, J., Swanson, E. A., Boardman, A. G., Roberts, G., Mohammed, S., et al. (2011). Efficacy of collaborative strategic reading with middle school students. American Educational Research Journal, 48, 938–964. doi: 10.3102/0002831211410305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Klingner, J., Swanson, E. A., Boardman, A. G., Stillman-Spisak, S. J., et al. (2009). Collaborative strategic reading: Findings from experienced implementers. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 6, 137–163. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2012.741661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Swanson, E. A., Wanzek, J., Fall, A. M., & Stillman-Spisak, S. J. (2015). Improving middle-school students’ knowledge and comprehension in social studies: A replication. Educational Psychology Review, 27, 31–50. doi: 10.1007/s10648-014-9274-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vaughn, S., Swanson, E. A., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., Stillman-Spisak, S. J., Solis, M., et al. (2013). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge in middle school. Reading Research Quarterly, 48, 77–93. doi: 10.1177/0014402914563704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Kent, S., Swanson, E. A., Roberts, G., Haynes, M., et al. (2014). The effects of team-based learning on social studies knowledge acquisition in high school. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7, 183–204. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2013.836765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M. A., & Capin, P. (2015). Meta-analyses of the effects of tier 2 type reading interventions in grades K-3. Educational Psychology Review, 28, 1–26. doi: 10.1007/s10648-015-9321-7.Google Scholar
  71. Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Metz, K., Murray, C., Roberts, G., et al. (2013). Extensive reading interventions for students with reading difficulties after grade 3. Review of Educational Research, 83, 163–195. doi: 10.3102/0034654313477212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Willingham, D. T. (2007). Ask the cognitive scientist: The usefulness of brief instruction in reading comprehension strategies. American Educator, 30(4), 39–45.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Swanson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth A. Stevens
    • 1
  • Nancy K. Scammacca
    • 1
  • Philip Capin
    • 1
  • Alicia A. Stewart
    • 1
  • Christy R. Austin
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations