Programs that Work
Early Intervention in Reading
Children Succeeding in School
Students performing at grade level or meeting state curriculum standards
Age of Child
Early Childhood (0-8)
Middle Childhood (9-12)
Type of Setting
Type of Service
Type of Outcome Addressed
Cognitive Development / School Performance
Evidence Level (What does this mean?)
The Early Intervention in Reading Program (EIR) is a small-group intervention for struggling readers that is used within the regular classroom. Regular classroom teachers carry out the program, usually with the help of instructional aides or older students. EIR is designed to help kindergarten and first-grade students succeed in school and to help children continue to make good progress in reading in grades 2 through 4. Kindergarten is a whole class literature-based emergent literacy/oral language program with small group follow-up for children who need extra help. Children in first and second grade receive 20 to 30 minutes a day of instruction as a portion of the schoolís regular reading program, with a focus on word recognition, fluency (reading with speed, accuracy and proper expression), and comprehension instruction. In the first-grade program, emphasis is placed on developing studentsí phonemic awareness (i.e., their awareness of how to properly sound out words and letters) and their understanding of the alphabet, and on helping students to apply phonics while reading connected text (i.e., grouped words). In grades 3 and 4, students continue to apply their phonics knowledge and word recognition strategies to the reading of connected text and work on fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
Students in grades kindergarten through grade 4.
Taylor et al. (1997) evaluated EIR in a sample of second-grade students from a school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Approximately 56 percent of the schoolís students were ethnic or racial minorities, and 49 percent received subsidized lunches. Based on scores on the Metropolitan Achievement Test, teachers identified 31 students who they thought would benefit from the reading intervention program. Twelve students who did not have conflicts with other classes participated in a group that received EIR plus tutoring by fourth-grade students, and seven students participated in an EIR-only group. The remaining 12 students made up the control group (no tutoring). Third-grade outcomes studied by Taylor et al. included scores on the reading subtest of the Metropolitan Achievement Test (with second-grade scores used as a covariate) and reading accuracy (measured by whether or not students were able to read stories with at least 90 percent accuracy).
Taylor et al. (2002) studied EIR among first-grade students in two intermediate school districts located in the north-central United States. An average of 43 percent of the students at the schools received subsidized lunches. Teachers identified up to seven students per class who they thought would benefit from the EIR instruction, resulting in a treatment group of 51 children from 11 classrooms in eight schools. A total of 35 students from seven schools participated as control subjects, with teachers identifying up to seven students per classroom who they felt would benefit from an early reading intervention program. Of the seven control schools, two were from the same two districts as the treatment schools, and five were from neighboring districts. Control students received the schoolís regular reading program, which included 90 to 120 minutes a day of literacy instruction. Treatment-group students also received 90 to 120 minutes of daily reading instruction, with 20 minutes of EIR included during this block of time. Outcomes that were assessed included reading speed and number of words read correctly in a story passage, accuracy in the retelling of a story passage, the percentage of correct answers to reading comprehension questions related to the passage, and the percentage of children who could read at a primer level or higher with at least 93 percent accuracy. Studentís scores on a phonemic-awareness test given at the beginning of the school year were used as covariates in the analyses.
Key Evaluation Findings
Taylor et al. (1997) reported:
- Significantly more children in the intervention-plus-tutoring group than in the control group were reading at grade level by the end of second grade. By the end of the school year (in May), 75 percent of the EIR-plus-tutoring group, less than 30 percent of the EIR-only group, and none of the control group students could read a selected passage from the second-grade basal reader with at least 90 percent word-recognition accuracy.
- The EIR-plus-tutoring group scored significantly higher than the control group on the Metropolitan Achievement Test, with percentile rankings of 19 and 8, respectively. The EIR-plus-tutoring group scored marginally higher than the EIR-only group, which had a percentile ranking of 11. There were no significant differences between the EIR-only and the control group.
- EIR and EIR-plus-tutoring students scored significantly higher than control students on the number of words read correctly per minute (effect size 0.34) and on accurate story retelling (effect size 0.69).
- There were no significant differences between EIR and EIR-plus-tutoring students and control students on the percentage of correct answers to reading-comprehension questions.
- When the sample was limited to the most at-risk students at the beginning of the school year (defined by scores on a phonemic awareness test), significantly more EIR and EIR-plus-tutoring students (81 percent) than control students (50 percent) could read at a primer level or higher at the end of the school year.
Public and private elementary schools
The overall program costs of EIR in 2004-2005 are $500 per teacher for training and from $500 to $1000 for books, depending on the grade level.
The EIR program provides relatively short classroom lessons. Children become familiar with the schedule of lessons on each particular day of the program, and this knowledge may help them to become more efficient in the learning of reading skills.
The EIR kindergarten program uses whole-class instruction with small-group follow-up for the children with the most limited oral language and emergent literacy abilities. Activities include listening to stories for enjoyment, discussion of how the stories relate to studentsí lives, creative dramatics, and exposure to letter and sound recognition, phonemic segmentation and blending, and concepts of print and rhyme.
EIR for grades 1 and 2 is a classroom intervention program in which the teacher works with a group of five to seven of the lowest-achieving readers for 20 to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. For three days a week, the group engages in repeated reading of and guided writing about a short illustrated book. Students are trained in phonemic awareness and word-recognition strategies to foster independent reading and to become better able to answer high-level reading-comprehension questions.
The EIR programs for grades 3 and 4 employ a five-day-a-week routine and focus on deciphering multi-syllabic words, enhancing fluency, and improving reading comprehension. The third-grade program uses both narrative and informational books, while the fourth-grade program uses only informational materials that the children use to practice the reciprocal teaching model (reading to students in lower grade levels) as a reading reading-development technique.
The EIR professional development component includes a half-day initial session and nine two-hour monthly meetings of the classroom teachers. In addition to learning new strategies as students make progress in developing their reading abilities, teachers share their successes and concerns with each other and watch videos of themselves teaching the EIR program. Professional development is also provided through an internet-based instructional delivery system, combined with support from an EIR trainer.
Issues to Consider
This program received a "promising" rating. The evaluations of the EIR program indicate that treatment-group students have experienced significant improvements in their reading skills as compared with no-treatment control group students who have not experienced similar improvements. The program's "promising" rating is due to the small samples sizes in the two evaluation studies and the non-equivalent control groups used in the analyses. These factors limit our ability to know for certain that the program alone caused the observed positive outcomes.
Results from the Taylor et al. (1997) study suggest that the EIR program may be more effective when used in conjunction with older peer tutors, while an alternative interpretation of the study's results is that EIR may be ineffective without the tutoring component. Furthermore, results from Taylor, et al. (2002) suggest that the EIR program may be most effective for students at a higher risk of failing to acquire reading skills than for lower-risk students.
The EIR program is a relatively inexpensive intervention that utilizes small-group instruction instead of more costly one-on-one instruction.
It should be noted that the program developer participated in all three program evaluations cited in this program description.
St. Paul Minnesota
Early Intervention in Reading Professional Development Program
11293 Hastings Street NE
Blaine, MN 55449
Tel (763) 785-0710
Fax (763) 785-0702
The Early Intervention in Reading Program website (www.earlyinterventioninreading.com) offers information on professional development and resources for schools and teachers interested in implementing the program.
Taylor, Barbara M., Barbara E. Hanson, Karen Justice-Swanson, and Susan M. Watts, "Helping Struggling Readers: Linking Small-Group Intervention with Cross-Age Tutoring,"
The Reading Teacher,
Vol. 51, No. 3, 1997, pp. 196-209.
Taylor, Barbara M., Ceil Critchley, Kristine Paulsen, Kristen MacDonald, and Heidi Miron, Learning to Teach an Early Reading Intervention Program Through Internet-Supported Professional Development, Edina, Minn.: Web Education Company, 2002.
Taylor, Barbara M., Ruth A. Short, Brenda A. Shearer, and Barbara J. Frye, "First Grade Teachers Provide Reading Intervention in the Classroom," in Richard L. Allington and Sean A. Walmsley, eds., No Quick Fix: Rethinking Literacy Programs in Americaís Elementary Schools, New York, N.Y.: Teachers College Press,1995, pp. 159-176.