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The R&D behind the BRI-ARI series: SWRL

The history of BRI-ARI and the R&D that led to its current status

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Development of initial ARI-BRI: SWRL

The documentation of the programmatic R&D from which the SWRL Reading Program derives is recorded in more than 100 SWRL technical publications and journal articles. The inquiry involved a wide range of analytic and empirical investigations designed to reduce the uncertainty associated with the production of effective and economical resources for reliable instruction in reading.

This paper overviews the repeated cycles of classroom testing and revision of program materials and procedures.

 

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The Long-term effects on High School Seniors of Learning to Read in Kindergarten: Ralph A. Hanson & Donna Farrell

Many people believe that, over the long term, early-age reading instruction will have a negative impact on childrens’ reading skills and attitudes. Accompanying this belief are two others:
One, it doesn’t matter when formal reading instruction begins - since first grade is traditional, start there. 
Two, any gains a child makes in early-age reading instruction will be “washed out” within a few years.

We wished to investigate the research findings cited to support this set of beliefs and to consider whether they might be attributed to two flaws: inadequate early-age instructional programs and/or flawed research design and execution. We were interested to see what would happen with a well-developed instructional program and sound research design and execution.

In 1986-1987, when the Kindergarten Program children were completing their final year of secondary school, 2000 were tested and compared with a control group of ‘matched’ students with no similar instruction. The results showed clear and conclusive benefits from the Kindergarten program, both in terms of schooling experiences and current reading competencies.
Ralph Hanson was a leader of the original R&D programme

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Making Change Happen: A new look at Schooling Effects from Programmatic Research and Development: Ralph A. Hanson & Richard E. Schultz

Why We Were Interested: Studies almost without exception show a high relationship between socioeconomic status and reading achievement. We believed that this was due to two considerations: weak reading instruction and insensitive measures of achievement.

What We Did: The use of the original BRI in a large number of school districts provided  the basis for the study that was replicated over a 2 year period.  Around 300 LEAs, 2000 schools, 4000 kindergarten classes and 100,000 pupils participated for the full school year.

The instruction occurred under ordinary classroom conditions; the study was completely unobtrusive. We did gather information on the ethnic and socioeconomic status of pupils’ families, and teachers administered a “Criterion Exercise” upon completion of each of 10 “Units” of instruction. Pupil scores on the tests provided information both on the amount of instruction presented, and on pupil performances. This information could then be arrayed by ethnic and socioeconomic status. It could also be arrayed by teacher, school, and LEA to determine the variability in these categories. The large population made it possible to randomly sample large subsamples to confirm replicability. The second year replication of the study yielded further confirmatory information.

What We Found Out: The data consistently supports the explanation that performance variation was due to the number of days spent on instruction during the year rather than from any biosocial characteristics.

The data indicates that the concept of 'educationally disadvantaged' is a creation of manipulated and manipulable conditions under the control of schools rather than the result of immutable genetic and environmental factors.

Bottom Line: When teachers teach, students learn. But to find out what has been taught, more sensitive indicators than prevailing instructionally insensitive tests must be used.

 

 

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