Targeted Reading Intervention Programs Using #EdTech

Targeted Reading Intervention Programs Using #EdTech
Summary: This article analyzes and explores a variety of studies and reports in hopes of collecting valuable information about improving student reading literacy through targeted reading intervention programs.

Computer-Assisted Reading Intervention Programs

Quality Reading intervention programs have become a focus for schools throughout Tennessee. Computer-assisted reading intervention programs.

There has been a growing concern in Tennessee with regards to Literacy in K12 public education. Literacy needs of middle school readers are being targeted as achievement gaps and the pressure to address these gaps in struggling readers has increased since the implementation of a state-wide teacher evaluation rubric. Consequently, school administrators and educators are being held accountable for student achievement on state-mandated assessments, now more than ever, through the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM). The pressure and urgency to improve student achievement scores is a result of Tennessee’s new evaluation model. The TEAM rubric factors an educator’s effectiveness using up to 50% of student achievement data in Reading literacy, Math, and Science.

Efficacy Of Computer-Assisted Technology

Much of the literature reviewed indicates that computer-assisted, web-based technology has a significant impact on student learning. This impact has created a need for technology-integrated instruction based on affordability and the educational value web-based learning has on student learning. In one study, researchers presented a web-based framework for the implementation of learning environments, which promoted online learning using a variety of web-based devices. The use of web-based learning tools had a significant impact on student achievement, engagement, and satisfaction.

Additional studies reviewed indicated that computer-assisted learning programs also had a significant affect on student participation and student achievement. In a single-subject, across-participants design, researchers analyzed whether a computer-assisted reading intervention program increased literacy in inattentive struggling readers compared to students identified as attentive struggling readers (Walcott, Marett, & Hessel, 2014).  Walcott et al. (2014) reported that a computer-assisted approach to learning was significantly more effective at providing intervention to inattentive readers as compared to their counterparts. Furthermore, researchers reported that students who learned through computer-assisted technology typically had learning outcomes at least as good as students who participated in face-to-face instruction (Irvin, Hannum, de la Varre, & Farmer, 2010).

However, Graf and Kinshuk (2006) warn that, although web-based technology has proven successful in the field of online learning education, there are a number of student learning variables which must be considered before school administrators begin implementing computer-assisted remedial programs. Wu and Coady (2010) reported that a computer-assisted remedial program must incorporate cultural diversity from multiple perspectives in order to be effective. Researchers Huang, Lin, and Haung (2012) address Graf and Kinshuk (2006) concerns through a study, which analyzed the mediating processes between variables of student learning and learning online. Huang et al. (2012) reported that online participation is a mediating construct between learning efficacy and student performance; however, the researchers did acknowledge that it is difficult to determine the degree of this influence.

Supporting Theory

Researchers have used several theoretical frameworks to conduct theory-based investigations into the efficacy of computer-assisted reading interventions. Chyung and Vachon (2005) conducted a theory-based investigation using Frederick Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory, which stated that certain behavioral factors contributed to student satisfaction and participation within computer-assisted learning programs. Cognitive evaluation theory, which determines a students’ level of intrinsic motivation, can be used to evaluate a students’ level of motivation using computer-assisted technology (Jin Nam, 2012). Other studies have used transactional distance theory to identify effective online learning environments (McBrien et al., 2009). McCarthy (2010) reported on the use of a constructionist epistemology approach in determining the quality of teaching and learning online. McGlone (2011) used an Androgogical approach to understand the teaching and learning processes of adults using online learning programs. Much can be learned from the theoretical frameworks discussed here, which can be used as a guide for future research into the efficacy of computer-assisted reading interventions on struggling middle school students.

Reading Interventions

There are a number of studies which detail the importance of early reading intervention. In an experimental study, designed to deliver extensive independent reading intervention, researchers analyzed the effects a reading only intervention program had on student achievement. Researchers reported targeted reading interventions had a significant impact on struggling readers. Other researchers supported a need to deliver focused reading intervention time, requiring reluctant readers to engage in sustained reading. Due to the number of studies supporting the benefits of computer-assisted learning and the efficacy of reading interventions on student literacy, it is reasonable to hypothesize a positive connection between the two. There are a number of computerized reading intervention programs which have been studied and analyzed to determine the level of efficacy on improving student literacy. Struggling readers had higher reading scores using computer-assisted technology than compared to struggling readers who did not have the same technology access.

  • The Targeted Reading Intervention (TRI).
    The TRI program was designed to deliver real time long-distance reading intervention coaching to teachers using web-cam technology to assist in providing 15-minute reading interventions. ome computerized reading intervention programs are utilized to determine the effectiveness of three specific areas of reading literacy, which can include reading comprehension.
  • Scholastic’s Read 180.
    In a quantitative study, researchers reported that the Read 180 program produced positive, but unexceptional effects on the reading skills of struggling readers compared to that of traditional face-to-face instruction. Additional research supported that the Read 180 program lacked conclusive evidence to support the efficacy of the program (Parker, Holland, & Jones, 2013). In a qualitative study designed to investigate how English Language Learners (ELL) responded to the Read 180 program, researchers reported that the remedial program had no significant impact (Wu & Coady, 2010). Wu and Coady (2010) concluded that the Read 180 model did not offer cultural knowledge, experiences, and was unable to respond to unique cultural needs of ELL students. Additionally, Kim, Samson, Fitzgerald, & Hartry (2010) reported on the casual effects Read 180 had on measures of vocabulary and reading fluency. The study included two groups of students who were randomly assigned to either the Read 180 program or a less structured after-school reading program. Kim et al. (2010) reported that there was no significant difference between students participating in the Read 180 program and that of the after-school program on measures of vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Furthermore, researchers reported the study yielded no statistically significant differences in student achievement score between the groups (Kim et al., 2010). In a later study, Kim, Capotosto, Hartry, & Fitzgerald (2011) conducted an independent randomized control study, which evaluated the efficacy of Read 180 on measures of vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, and fluency. The study was designed very similarly to the Kim et al. (2010) study. Contrary to that study, Kim et al. (2011) reported that there was indeed a positive and statistically significant impact on student scores when utilizing the Read 180 program. Specifically, researchers of the study reported that Read 180 students outperformed the school district by 8.43% on reading vocabulary and 9.66% on reading comprehension (Kim et al., 2011). Although Kim et al. (2011) reported significantly higher outcomes in regards to comprehension, the two studies shared consistent results showing no significant impact on spelling and fluency. However, in a contrasting study, researchers reported that during the first year of a three-year study, sixth-grade students outperformed comparison students with statistical differences on measures of reading comprehension and fluency (Roberts et al., 2013). Additionally, Walcott et al. (2014) reported that the use of a computer-assisted intervention program resulted in significant fluency gains. Despite recent research results indicating the inconsistent impact Read 180 has on student literacy and achievement, it is this author’s belief that it is reasonable to hypothesize that computer-assisted technology could have a significant and consistent impact on middle school student achievement scores in Reading Literacy. Additionally, researchers who have successfully utilized the Scholastic Read 180 and System 44 remedial reading programs have reported statistically significant student literacy results (Kim, Capotosto, Hartry, & Fitzgerald, 2011; Papalewis, 2004). In fact, researchers have reported that although students in online reading interventions showed significant gains overall, middle school students who required reading interventions needed ongoing support (Roberts et al., 2013). Furthermore, Vaughn et al. (2012) reported that although computer-assisted reading interventions have shown significant impact on student achievement, the efficacy of these programs beyond middle school could negatively impact other content areas.
  • A computer-assisted program called Carry-A-Tune (CAT).
    CAT can be utilized to analyze the effectiveness of a reading intervention. Researchers using this program have consistently found that there are significant improvements in both reading comprehension and instruction when targeted reading interventions are utilized.


The current research reviewed provides insight into the impact of computer-assisted technology and the importance of early reading intervention. Additionally, several learning theories, such as cognitive evaluation theory and constructionist epistemology, provide a framework for future research. A combination of theories can be used to conduct an investigation into the efficacy of a reading intervention program using computer-assisted technology, such as Scholastic’s Read 180 program. Inconsistent and contrasting research into the efficacy of reading intervention programs underscores the need to conduct further research dedicated to identifying effective or ineffective variables associated with learning online.


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