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Analysis of achievement data on six cohorts of low-income children from 20 school districts in the University of Oregon Direct Instruction Follow Through model

Becker, W.; Engelmann, S.
This study analyzed the effectiveness of the Engelmann-Becker Direct Instruction model during Project Follow Through. The model was designed to develop basic academic skills for disadvantaged primary-grade children in order for them to be at grade level by the conclusion of third grade. The program’s principles and objectives are described, and the rationale behind them is explained in detail. Becker and Engelmann analyzed data from 12,000 disadvantaged students in 20 regions across the U.S. Fifty percent of the students began the program in kindergarten while the remainder began in first grade. The students were instructed using the DISTAR program, which utilized small-group face to face instruction by a teacher using carefully sequenced daily lessons in reading, arith¬metic, and language. (DISTAR is the forerunner of contemporary programs such as Reading Mastery and Connecting Math Concepts.) The Wide Range Achievement Test, the Metropolitan Achievement Test, and the Slosson Intelligence Test were used to measure student achievement. Results indicated that students were, on average, at or near national norms by the conclusion of third grade. Additional follow up testing in the fifth and sixth grade showed the continued effectiveness of the DISTAR program, even though there were losses against the norms. This loss was attributed to the change in the format of instruction following third grade. Becker and Engelmann conclude that their program is clearly effective with low IQ students and that entry IQ is not a major determinant of academic gains. They recommend an early start to basic skill instruction, a systematic expansion of basic vocabulary, and the extension of the use of the program until minimal adult competencies are met. (Copyright © 2011, National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). All rights reserved).
Research areas:
Main publication type:
Program Effectiveness
Project Follow Through; DISTAR; reading; math; language; Wide Range Achievement Test; Metropolitan Achievement Test; Slosson Intelligence Test; basic skills
Technical report 78-1. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Education, Bureau of School Systems, Division of Follow Through
Design type:
Pretest Posttest Norm Comparison Design and Posttest Only Control Group Design
Fidelity monitored:
Students included:
Elementary students, kindergarten students, at-risk students, Native American students, Mexican American students, Hispanic students, Spanish American students African American students, Caucasian students
Other tags:
Project Follow Through, DISTAR, reading, math, language, Wide Range Achievement Test, Metropolitan Achievement Test, Slosson Intelligence Test, basic skills
Rural area, urban area, North East, Midwest, South, West

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