Marta Pellegrini, University of Florence, Italy
The Campbell Collaboration has recently published a meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for K-6 students at risk for failure in mathematics and reading. To be included in the review, studies had to use randomized or quasi-experimental designs and evaluate interventions conducted during the regular school day. A total of 205 studies were included in the review. Of these, 93% were randomized experiments and 86% took place in the United States. The included studies were placed in the following categories based on the intervention characteristics: coaching of personnel; computer-assisted instruction; incentives; peer-assisted instruction; progress monitoring; small-group instruction.
Overall, results showed significant positive effect for outcomes measured immediately after the intervention (ES = +0.30) as well as for follow-up outcomes (up to 2 years; ES = +0.27). Consistent with findings of previous reviews on students at risk for failure, peer-assisted instruction and small-group instruction by an adult showed the largest effect sizes (ES between +0.35 and +0.45). Regarding factors that may have influenced the effectiveness of interventions, the study found evidence that effect sizes were larger for early grades compared to older grades.
The authors concluded that implementing targeted interventions that involve the use of peer-assisted approach or small-group instruction by adults can reduce the gap in reading and math achievement between struggling students and their classmates.