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The effectiveness of Direct Instruction on IQ performance and achievement in reading and arithmetic

Engelmann, S.
This study compared the effect of DISTAR to a traditional preschool program on the rapid attainment of basic academic concepts in reading and arithmetic by “culturally disadvantaged” children. All students were administered the Stanford-Binet test to determine their IQs. Students were divided into three groups based on their IQs (high intelligence, middle intelligence, low intelligence). Students were then placed into either the DISTAR (n=15) or control group (n=28), while trying to maintain an equal balance of students from the three different intelligence groups as well as male and female students, and Caucasian and African American students. Additionally, 18 middle-class preschool students were included in the study to provide a comparison of non-“culturally disadvantaged” students. Post-testing with the Stanford-Binet was conducted following the first and second years of instruction for the culturally disadvantaged students and only after the second year of instruction for the general education students. Results indicated that disadvantaged students in the DISTAR group recorded greater IQ scores on the Stanford-Binet than the students in the control group. Following two years of instruction, the mean IQ of students in the DISTAR group was 121.08, well above the mean of the middle-class students as well as the mean of the students in the control group (99.61). Disadvantaged students who remained in the DISTAR group for two years recorded a mean reading achievement at grade level 2.60, a mean reading performance of 2.51, and a mean spelling performance of 1.87. Following one year of instruction with the DISTAR program, middle-class students recorded mean reading and spelling achievement scores at the same level of the disadvantaged students following two years of instruction with DISTAR. (Copyright © 2011, National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). All rights reserved).
Research areas:
Main publication type:
Program Effectiveness
DISTAR; language; reading; math; spelling; Stanford-Binet; IQ; Wide Range Achievement Test
In J. Hellmuth (Ed.), Disadvantaged child, vol. 3. Compensatory education: A national debate (pp. 339–361). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Design type:
Pretest Posttest Norm Comparison Design and Pretest Posttest Control Group Design
Fidelity monitored:
Students included:
Preschool students, culturally disadvantaged students, at-risk students, low-SES students, middle-class students, general education students, Caucasian students, African American students
Urbana, Illinois, Bereiter-Engelmann preschool
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