IEBE Research

Scaling-up Effective Interventions for Preventing Reading Difficulties

Project Scale-up was a five-year multi-site research study, funded in 2003 under the Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI) by the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education. It represents a collaboration between the Institute for Evidence-Based Education (IEBE) and the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts (VGC), formerly known as the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Reading and Language Arts. The primary objective was to investigate the processes involved with implementing research-validated first-grade reading interventions on a wide scale, in multiple schools with multiple contexts. Additionally, we focused efforts on the impact of ongoing support - coaching - by providing periodic in-person visits or interactive technology communications to reading intervention teachers.


The first three years of the study concentrated on the process of bringing to scale Proactive Early Interventions in Reading (formerly Proactive Reading) and Responsive Reading, which differ dramatically in terms of their theoretical orientations and instructional design. Students were randomly assigned to receive one of these interventions. Certified teachers offered the intervention for 40 minutes daily to groups of three students. Both were shown to be equally effective in previous research conducted in six schools in Houston, Texas (Mathes et al., 2005).

Teachers were trained in either Proactive or Proactive Reading and engaged in one of the three coaching conditions, On-Site Coaching, On-Demand Coaching or Virtual Coaching.

During the last year of the study, 2007-2008 school year, SMU researchers shifted their focus to look more closely at the effectiveness of teachers getting on-going support through the Virtual Coach as opposed to teachers who received no further support beyond the four professional development days attended by all participating teachers.

This longitudinal study included approximately 2000 elementary students, 142 intervention teachers, and 86 schools in two widely separated urban and suburban areas. The following school districts participated: Bartlett, Burnet, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Dallas, Eanes, Fort Worth, Garland, Luling, Richardson, Rockdale, Rogers, Salado, Thrall, Troy and UT Elementary School.

Full Description and Results

Click here to learn more about the project and the results of the study.

Key Resources

Scale-up - Plain Talk 2009 presentation