Reading Plus Raises the Reading Achievement of Low SES Students

Purpose of Study:

This study evaluated changes in the reading proficiency of students who were eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch Program, often used as a proxy for socioeconomic status, in relation to the amount of Reading Plus reading practice the students engaged in during the course of the 2013-14 school year. These results were also compared with the performance of students not eligible for subsidized lunch.

Scores and levels on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test 2.0 (FCAT) were used as the measure of reading achievement. At the time, the FCAT was the standardized state test administered to all Florida public school students in grades three through ten.

Study Design:

Included in the study were students in grades 4-10 with valid 2013 and 2014 FCAT data (n = 104,475). Of these, 77% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 63% completed reading practice lessons.

Changes in scores and levels between the spring 2013 and spring 2014 administrations of the FCAT were examined in relation to lunch status and the amount of reading practice students engaged in. The latter was quantified in terms of the number of reading practice lessons completed.

Key Results:

In all grade bands, a significant positive relationship was found between increasing amounts of Reading Plus practice and larger scale score gains on the FCAT. This was true for all student groups regardless of their subsidized lunch status.

As well, students who completed at least 100 Reading Plus lessons (~30 hours) were significantly more likely to advance from below satisfactory to satisfactory or higher levels on the reading portion of the FCAT. This also was true regardless of a student’s subsidized lunch status.