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An Evaluation of Two Contrasting Approaches for Improving Reading Achievement in a Large Urban District

California State University Dominguez HillsUniversity of Oregon and Instructional Research Group, Signal Hill, CA

This independent evaluation of 2 commonly used approaches for accelerating reading achievement and reducing inappropriate special education referrals, Success for All (SFA) and Open Court, was conducted in 12 Title I schools in a large urban district in northern California. To compare the effects of these approaches, we collected data on 936 grade 2 and 3 students over 2 years and 5,694 K through 6 students over 3 years to determine academic and special education enrollment outcomes, respectively. Results supported the prediction that students who used Open Court would outperform those who used SFA on mean SAT9 scores in reading and language but not the prediction that SFA would help students in the bottom quartile of SAT9 score higher or reduce demand for special education services more than Open Court. Neither Open Court nor SFA was associated with reductions in special education enrollment rates, except in Title I schools with the least poverty. A follow‐up survey of 17 teachers and an analysis of lesson pacing plans suggested why the teachers saw Open Court as superior on academic outcomes and SFA on social outcomes.