"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.