Core Task 1: We conduct randomized experiments of literacy reform strategies and interventions that have a solid grounding in research and theory.

Examples of work falling under this core research task include:

Kim, J. S., Guryan, J., White, T. G., Quinn, D. M., Capotosto, L., & Kingston, H. C. (2016). Delayed Effects of a Low-Cost and Large-Scale Summer Reading Intervention on Elementary School Children's Reading Comprehension. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, (just-accepted), 00-00.

To improve the reading comprehension outcomes of children in high-poverty schools, policymakers need to identify reading interventions that show promise of effectiveness at scale. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a low-cost and large-scale summer reading intervention that provided comprehension lessons at the end of the school year and stimulated home-based summer reading routines with narrative and informational books. We conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 59 elementary schools, 463 classrooms, and 6,383 second and third graders and examined outcomes on the North Carolina End-of-Grade (EOG) reading comprehension test administered nine months after the intervention, in the children's third- or fourth-grade year. We found that on this delayed outcome, the treatment had a statistically significant impact on children's reading comprehension, improving performance by .04 SD(standard deviation) overall and .05 SD in high-poverty schools. We also found, in estimates from an instrumental variables analysis, that children's participation in home-based summer book reading routines improved reading comprehension. The cost-effectiveness ratio for the intervention compared favorably to existing compensatory education programs that target high-poverty schools.

White, T. G., Kim, J. S., Kingston, H. C., & Foster, L. (2014). Replicating the Effects of a Teacher‐Scaffolded Voluntary Summer Reading Program: The Role of Poverty. Reading Research Quarterly, 49(1), 5-30.

A randomized trial involving 19 elementary schools (K–5) was conducted to replicate and extend two previous experimental studies of the effects of a voluntary summer reading program that provided (a) books matched to students’ reading levels and interests and (b) teacher scaffolding in the form of end-of-year comprehension lessons. Matched schools were randomly assigned to implement one of two lesson types. Within schools, students were randomly assigned to a control condition or one of two treatment conditions: a basic treatment condition replicating procedures used in the previous studies or an enhanced treatment condition that added teacher calls in the summer. During summer vacation, students in the treatment conditions received two lesson books and eight books matched to their reading level and interests. Overall, there were no significant treatment effects, and treatment effects did not differ across lesson type. However, there was a significant interaction between the treatment conditions and poverty measured at the school level. The effects of the treatments were positive for high-poverty schools (Cohen ’ s d = .08 and .11, respectively), defined as schools where 75–100% of the students were receiving free or reduced-price lunch (FRL). For moderate poverty schools (45–74% FRL ), the effects of the treatments were negative (Cohen ’ s d = −.11 and −.12, respectively). The results underscore the importance of looking at patterns of treatment effects across different contexts, settings, and populations.