Failure Free Reading

Study: Torgesen, Myers, Schirm, Stuart, Vartivarian, et al. (2006)

Torgesen, J., Myers, D., Schirm, A., Stuart, E., Vartivarian, S., Mansfield, W., Stancavage, F., Durno, D., Javorsky, R., & Haan, C. (2006). National Assessment of Title I Interim Report to Congress: Volume II: Closing the reading gap: First year findings
Descriptive Information Usage Acquisition and Cost Program Specifications and Requirements Training

Failure Free Reading (FFR) is a research based, scientifically validated diagnostic/prescriptive reading intervention program designed to improve reading outcomes for students who have not responded to regular and/or remedial reading instruction. The program’s unique combination of scaffolds enable the lowest level readers to immediately experience success with age- and grade level- appropriate passages regardless of current reading ability. FFR’s unique language development approach to intervention is designed to rapidly build comprehension, vocabulary and fluency, along with efficacy, confidence, and esteem.

Unlike most other commercial reading interventions, FFR combines word level instruction with reading comprehension/vocabulary instruction. The program does not incorporate phonics or phonemic decoding instruction, attempt to remediate deficits, or “teach skills to mastery”. Instead, FFR’s unique non-phonic methodology compensates for the environmental, language and audio-phonological deficits that prevent so many students from reading age-level texts with fluency and comprehension success, and developing grade level vocabularies.

FFR is less concerned with etiology (why a student is a “non-reader”) and more with the utilization of effective instructional strategies found to impact non-readers, such as the use of multiple exposures within multiple contexts. FFR presents these age appropriate materials within a multi-sensory format using practices based on direct instruction, scaffolding, repeated readings and meta-cognitive strategies. Key to the efficacy of FFR is its instructional integration, cognitive chunking and multiple exposures within multiple contexts. Finally, FFR is taught by certified and non-certified instructors in regular classrooms, extended day programs, pull-out situations, and lab settings.

Failure Free Reading is intended for use in grades 1 through high school. It is designed for use with students with disabilities, (including learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, behavioral disabilities, and students scoring 0-15% on standardized reading tests), English language learners, and any student at risk of academic failure. The academic area of focus is reading (comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, spelling).

Since its initial release in 1988, Failure Free Reading has been used in more than one thousand sites. Current school district customers include New York City Schools, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Memphis City Schools, Mobile County Public Schools, Little Rock School District, and Tulsa Public Schools.

Where to obtain:
Failure Free Reading
140 Cabarrus Ave West
Concord, NC 28025
Phone: 888-233-7323
Website: www.failurefree.com

Cost:
Failure Free Reading’s Elementary, Secondary, and Life Skill Solutions each consist of a $3,000 site-level curriculum library (containing all teacher and student print materials, all of which are non-consumable), a 4% shipping & handling fee (on just print materials), plus either online software seats at $100 per twelve month subscription, or the standalone/network edition of the same software at $300 per thirty six month licensed seat. Product training is available either half-day onsite ($900) or 3 hour webcast ($300). Note: for sites with more than 2 or 3 teachers using the program, additional Teacher Manuals and student materials may be needed for implementation.

Failure Free Reading is designed for use with individual students or small groups of two to six students.

Failure Free Reading takes 45-60 minutes per session with a recommended five sessions per week for 4 to 50+ weeks.

The program includes a highly specified teacher’s manual.

Online software requires Internet-enabled computer with MAC OS8 or newer, or PC Windows XP or newer; Flash; and audio card and speakers. Optional standalone/ network edition of same software requires same hardware but no Internet connection.

Four hours of initial training is required for the instructor.

Training is onsite, and hands-on. Each participant is required to have access to a computer (with the software installed, or available via an Internet connection), and the print materials must be onsite. The training involves each participant going completely through the placement process, and an entire instructional cycle (scripted teacher lesson, talking software, print activities) plus reporting, grouping and classroom management.

Instructors must be paraprofessionals or teachers. The training manuals and materials were developed over time based on interaction with educators using the program.

Free and for-charge webinars and in person presentations by the program author are available upon request. CEU credits can be made available.

 

Participants: Convincing Evidence

Sample size: 55 third graders and 61 fifth graders received Failure Free Reading treatment, and 38 third graders and 65 fifth graders served as the Failure Free Reading control groups.

Risk Status: The students identified by their teachers as struggling readers were tested and were eligible for the study if they scored at or below the 30th percentile on the combination of the Sight Word Efficiency (SWE) and phonological decoding subtests of the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), and at or above the 5th percentile on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT).

Demographics:

 

Program

Control

p of chi square

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Grade level

  Grade 3

55

59%

38

41%

 

  Grade 5

61

48%

65

52%

 

Race-ethnicity

  African-American

26

22%

18

17%

 

  American Indian

 

 

 

 

 

  Asian/Pacific Islander

 

 

 

 

 

  Hispanic

NA

 

NA

 

 

  White

90

76%

85

83%

 

  Other

 

 

 

 

 

Socioeconomic status

  Subsidized lunch

51

44%

48

41%

 

  No subsidized lunch

65

66%

55

59%

 

Disability status

  Speech-language impairments

 

 

 

 

 

  Learning disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

  Behavior disorders

 

 

 

 

 

  Intellectual disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

  Other

 

 

 

 

 

  Not identified with a disability

 

 

 

 

 

ELL status

  English language learner

 

 

 

 

 

  Not English language learner

 

 

 

 

 

Gender

Female

61

53%

55

53%

 

Male

55

47%

48

47%

 

Training of Instructors: The teachers were randomly selected from volunteers at each school. They received approximately 70 hours of professional development and support during the year.

Design: Partially Convincing Evidence

Did the study use random assignment?: Yes.

If not, was it a tenable quasi-experiment?: Not applicable.

If the study used random assignment, at pretreatment, were the program and control groups not statistically significantly different and had a mean standardized difference that fell within 0.25 SD on measures used as covariates or on pretest measures also used as outcomes?: Adequate information on pretest differences was not provided.

If not, at pretreatment, were the program and control groups not statistically significantly different and had a mean standardized difference that fell within 0.25 SD on measures central to the study (i.e., pretest measures also used as outcomes), and outcomes were analyzed to adjust for pretreatment differences? Adequate information on pretest differences was not provided.

Were the program and control groups demographically comparable at pretreatment?: No.

Was there attrition bias1? No.

Did the unit of analysis match the unit for random assignment (for randomized studies) or the assignment strategy (for quasi-experiments)?: Yes.

1 NCII follows guidance from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in determining attrition bias. The WWC model for determining bias based on a combination of differential and overall attrition rates can be found on pages 13-14 of this document: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/reference_resources/wwc_procedures_v2_1_standards_handbook.pdf

 

Fidelity of Implementation: Convincing Evidence

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: Trainers rated teachers twice: in the fall (at the end of the practice period) and in the spring (near the end of the intervention period). The trainers provided ratings on eight dimensions of the teacher’s delivery of the program. The first five dimensions specifically address intervention fidelity while the remainder deal with general teacher quality.

Provide documentation (i.e., in terms of numbers) of fidelity of treatment implementation: The below summarizes the ratings on eight dimensions of program delivery. The ratings used a sevenpoint scale ranging from 1 = unsatisfactory performance through 3 = satisfactory performance to 7 = expert performance. The average ratings on all eight dimensions in both fall and spring generally ranged from about 4.0 to 6.8—well above the satisfactory (3) level.

Table III.10 Trainers’ Ratings of Eight Dimensions of Program Implementation

Rating Dimension

Mean

N

Fall 2003 Rating
1. Lessons include all prescribed program elements, appropriate sequence, and time frame 3.60 10
2. Mastery of program techniques, materials, and technology 3.10 10
3. Program's prompting, correction, and questioning strategies used 3.30 10
4. Effective lesson delivery, attention to pacing and transitions 3.30 10
5. Lesson plans and program record keeping completed 3.70 10
6. Student performance monitored, attention divided equally among students 3.50 10
7. Intervention as necessary to maintain students' attention and appropriate behavior 3.90 10
8. Good rapport and use of positive reinforcement 3.90 10
Spring 2004 Rating
1. Lessons include all prescribed program elements, appropriate sequence, and time frame 5.50 10
2. Mastery of program techniques, materials, and technology 5.50 10
3. Program's prompting, correction, and questioning strategies used 5.90 10
4. Effective lesson delivery, attention to pacing and transitions 5.70 10
5. Lesson plans and program record keeping completed 6.10 10
6. Student performance monitored, attention divided equally among students 6.00 10
7. Intervention as necessary to maintain students' attention and appropriate behavior 6.80 10
8. Good rapport and use of positive reinforcement 6.70 10

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Measures Broader: Convincing Evidence

Measures of Reading

 

Targeted Measure

Score type & range of measure

Reliability statistics

Relevance to program instructional content

Word Reading Accuracy & Fluency Measure 1:
WRMT-R Word Identification (WI)

Word Identification subtest from the WRMT-R requires students to pronounce real words from a list of increasing difficulty. The child’s score is the total number of words read correctly before reaching a ceiling, which is determined when the child makes a specific number of errors in a row.

Split-half = 0.94

 

Word Reading Accuracy & Fluency Measure 2:
TOWRE Sight Word Efficiency (SWE)

Sight Word Efficiency subtest from the TOWRE requires students to pronounce real words from a list of increasing difficulty as fast as they can. The score is the number of words correctly pronounced within 45 seconds.

Alternate form = 0.95

 

Word Reading Accuracy & Fluency Measure 3:
Aimsweb Oral Reading Passages (AIMS)

Oral Reading Fluency subtest from Edformation, Inc., (Howe and Shinn, 2002) requires students to read three passages at their grade level (third or fifth); their score is the median number of correct words per minute for the three passages. The text of this report refers to these passages as Aimsweb passages, which is the term used broadly in the reading practice community.

Alternate form = 0.92

 

Reading Comprehension Measure 1:
WRMT-R Passage Comprehension (PCG)

Passage Comprehension subtest from the WRMT-R requires students to read short passages that contain a blank substituted for one of the words. The task is to use the context of the passage to determine what word should fill the blank. The subtest uses the cloze procedure for estimating reading comprehension ability. This measure of reading comprehension has been widely used in other intervention research with older students, so it provides one basis for comparing results from this study with those from earlier research.

Split-half = 0.82

 

Reading Comprehension Measure 2:
Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation - Passage Comprehension (GRADE)

Passage Comprehension subtest from the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE; Williams 2001) requires students to read short passages and answer multiple-choice questions. The present study used this test because it relies on a method for assessing reading comprehension that is similar to methods widely used in the United States for state level accountability testing. It is administered in a group setting and requires students to read passages and answer questions independently. Despite a time limit, most students are able to complete all of the items.

Internal consistency =
Grade 3: 0.88
Grade 5: 0.90

 

Phonemic Decoding Measure 1:
Woodcock Test-R (WRMT-R) Word Attack (WA)

Word Attack subtest from the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test-Revised requires students to pronounce printed nonwords that are spelled according to conventional English spelling patterns.

 

See WRMT-R; Woodcock 1998.

Phonemic Decoding Measure 2:
Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)
Phonemic Decoding Efficiency (PDE) Subtest

Phonemic Decoding Efficiency subtest from the Test of Word Reading Efficiency requires students to pronounce nonwords from a list of increasing difficulty as fast as they can. The score is the number of words correctly pronounced within 45 seconds.

 

See TOWRE; Torgesen, Wagner, and Rashotte 1999.

Phonemic Decoding Measure 3: Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement-III (WJ-III) Calculations Subtest

Calculation subtest from the WJIII requires students to perform mathematical calculations of increasing difficulty until they miss a certain number of problems in a row.

 

See Woodcock, McGrew, and Mather 2001; calculations subtest from the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement

Measures of Language

Targeted Measure Score type & range of measure Reliability statistics Relevance to program instructional content

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processes (CTOPP) Measure 1:
Phoneme Blending Subtest

Blending subtest. Measures a student’s ability to blend together separate phonemes to form words.

Internal consistency = 0.84

See Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processes (CTOPP; Wagner, Torgesen, and Rashotte 1999)

CTOPP Measure 2:
Phoneme Elision Subtest

Elision subtest. Measures a student’s ability to manipulate the sounds in orally presented words. For example, the student might be asked to indicate the word that is made when the word split is pronounced without saying the phoneme /l/.

Internal consistency = 0.89

See above.

CTOPP Measure 3:
Rapid Automatic Naming of Letters Composite

Rapid naming for letters. Each subtest requires the student to name a matrix of six letters each randomly repeated six times, for a total of 36 items. The child’s score is the time required to name all the items. The test is administered twice, and the student’s score is the average of the two administrations.

Internal consistency = 0.92

See above.

Rapid Automated Naming (RAN) Measure 1:
Numbers Composite

Rapid Automated Naming (RAN) - Each subtest requires the student to name 5 high-frequency items randomly repeated 10 times in an array of 5 rows for a total of 50 stimulus items. Each row of 10 items contains two examples of each of the 5 items. The student’s score is the time required to name all the items.

Internal consistency = 0.87

See RAN/RAS; Wolf and Denkla 2005

RAN Measure 2:
Numbers Subtest

Numbers—each item is a number. See above for scoring details.

Test-retest = 0.92

See above.

RAN Measure 3:
Colors Subtest

Colors—each item is a color. See above for scoring details.

Test-retest = 0.90

See above.

RAN Measure 4:
Objects Subtest

Objects—each item is an object. See above for scoring details.

Test-retest = 0.84

See above.

RAN Measure 5:
Letters Subtest

Letters—each item is a letter. See above for scoring details.

Test-retest = 0.90

See above.

Rapid Alternating Stimulus (RAS) Measure 1:
2-set

2-set numbers and letters—requires the student to name items from the previous subtests that are randomly repeated 10 times in an array of 5 rows for a total of 50 stimulus items. The student’s score is the time required to name all of the items.

Test-retest = 0.90

See RAN/RAS; Wolf and Denkla 2005

RAS Measure 2:
3-set

3-set colors, numbers, and letters—each row of 10 items contains colors, numbers, and letters used in the subtests above. Each item occurs 3 or 4 times in the array. See above for scoring details.

Test-retest = 0.91

See above.

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test—Revised (PPVT-III) Measure 1:
Receptive Vocabulary

A measure of receptive vocabulary in which the subject is required to select a picture that best depicts the verbal stimulus given by the examiner. 

Internal consistency =  0.95

See Dunn and Dunn 1997; Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Third Edition 

Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–IV (CELF-IV) Measure 1:
Formulated Sentences

Requires the student to arrange words in a grammatically correct form to make a statement or ask a question.

Internal consistency = 0.87

See Semel, Wiig, and Secord 2003; Sentence Assembly Test from the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals, Fourth Edition

Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement-III (WJ-III) Measure 1:
Spelling Subtest

Requires students to spell words that are dictated to them.

Internal consistency = 0.89

See Woodcock, McGrew, and Mather 2001; spelling subtest from the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement

 

Number of Outcome Measures: 14 Reading

Mean ES - Targeted: 0.08

Mean ES - Broader: -0.03

Effect Size:

Targeted Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Reading 3rd grade Word Identification 0.09
Reading 3rd grade TOWRE SWE 0.17
Reading 3rd grade AIMSweb 0.05
Reading 3rd grade Passage Comprehension 0.18
Reading 3rd grade GRADE 0.35
Reading 5th grade Word Identification -0.04
Reading 5th grade TOWRE SWE 0.11
Reading 5th grade AIMSweb -0.01
Reading 5th grade Passage Comprehension 0.02
Reading 5th grade GRADE -0.11

 Broader Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Reading 3rd grade Word Attack -0.03
Reading 3rd grade TOWRE PDE -0.09
Reading 5th grade Word Attack -0.06
Reading 5th grade TOWRE PDE 0.07

 

Key
*      p ≤ 0.05
**    p ≤ 0.01
***  p ≤ 0.001
–      Developer was unable to provide necessary data for NCII to calculate effect sizes
u      Effect size is based on unadjusted means
†      Effect size based on unadjusted means not reported due to lack of pretest group equivalency, and effect size based on adjusted means is not available

 

Visual Analysis (Single Subject Design): N/A

Disaggregated Data for Demographic Subgroups: No

Disaggregated Data for <20th Percentile: No

Administration Group Size: Small Group, (n=3)

Duration of Intervention: 60 minutes, 5 times a week, 18 weeks

Minimum Interventionist Requirements: Teachers

Reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA: WWC

What Works Clearinghouse Review

Beginning Reading Protocol

Effectiveness: Failure Free Reading was found to have no discernible effects on alphabetics and fluency, and potentially positive effects on comprehension.

Studies Reviewed: 1 study meets standards out of 1 study total

Full Report

 

Evidence for ESSA

This program was not reviewed by Evidence for ESSA.

Other Research: Potentially Eligible for NCII Review: 0 studies