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"Fourth-Grade Slump" Examined

Over the past decade, many low-income schools throughout the country have seen an improvement in reading scores in first through third grades as schools increasingly used the research on beginning reading. However, researchers have noted a drop in reading test scores for low income students after finishing the third grade. This drop has been referred to as the "fourth grade slump."

The director of research for the National Institute of Direct Instruction, Dr. Jean Stockard, conducted a research study to see if using Direct Instruction continuously through fifth grade could overcome this phenomena. Dr. Stockard examined the results of a Direct Instruction implementation in a large low-income urban district. She focused on the performance of children who began Direct Instruction in kindergarten and first grade and continued in DI classrooms through fifth grade.

Dr. Stockard found that students in the DI programs out performed students in the District reading program and also performed above the national reading norms, thus countering the fourth-grade slump. The article was published in 2010 in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk. The complete article, Promoting Reading Achievement and Countering the "Fourth-Grade Slump": The Impact of Direct Instruction on Reading Achievement in Fifth Grade can be requested through . You can view the abstract of the article in the NIFDI Research Database by clicking here

Lubbock, Texas Charter School Receives National Recognition

Rise Academy has been chosen as one of only two schools in Texas to be recognized with the prestigious National Title 1 Distinguished School Award. Selection for the Distinguished School Award is based on meeting high academic performance criteria and an 85% or higher low-income student population. Information about Rise Academy's educational philosophy will be provided to National Title 1 Association staff so these methods can be shared with other schools to help improve achievement for their students.

Rise Academy utilizes Reading Mastery Signature as its core literacy program in pre k-1. Rise Academy founder and director Richard Baumgartner gives credit to a dedicated staff, and also states, "More than anything else, Reading Mastery is a key to our success." He continues, "This award certainly validates the great progress we have made and motivates us to strive to be even better. With such recognition comes greater responsibility."

NIFDI sends its congratulations and best wishes for continued success!

For more information about Rise Academy visit their website

NIFDI Research Department Releases White Paper on What Works Clearinghouse

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established by IES to summarize the research evidence on curricular programs. Yet, as many of you know, WWC conclusions often differ dramatically from those found in reviews and meta-analyses in the scholarly literature. As part of our attempt to understand why these differences appeared NIFDI requested, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), information on concerns others had raised through a "quality review process" regarding WWC procedures and conclusions.

Staff researcher Tim Wood has recently released a NIFDI White Paper that summarizes the concerns expressed in 69 quality reviews. For instance, more than four-fifths of the people and organizations requesting reviews were concerned about misinterpretation of study findings. Over a third were concerned with both the exclusion and inclusion of relevant research. In addition to summarizing these concerns the white paper discusses general issues with accountability with the WWC and the FOIA process and presents a number of important policy recommendations. The full text of the white paper can be found pdf here

Video of ELL Pre-K Pilot Program Released

Last spring NIFDI and partner IDEA Public Charter Schools presented a session titled, ELL Education: Keys to Ensuring Early Literacy at the National Charter School Conference. The presentation was very well received and led us to create a condensed, video version of the presentation. This video highlights an academic preschool pilot project begun in Fall of 2014 at Pharr IDEA Academy in Pharr, Texas. In this pilot, students in this predominately ELL school were taught using Espanol to English and/or DISTAR Language prior to entering kindergarten.

It is a great demonstration of what can be done to help students gain the English Language skills they will need for future success. To see the video, click here

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