On Saturday Robert Slavin passed away. This is sad news for everybody who knew him and for educational research. There is a very beautiful farewell in the latest Best Evidence in Brief, the newsletter that Robert Slavin started. Besides the touching eulogy, the first study that is being discussed is the following:
How effective is the Success for All program?
By Nathan Storey, Johns Hopkins University
It is rare that one program deserves its own systematic review or has the breadth and depth of research to warrant it, but Success for All (SfA) is not a typical program. With over 30 years of operations and services provided in around 1,000 schools, SfA has earned the attention of researchers evaluating the program’s impact. A recent study by Cheung and colleagues gathered 17 studies from the United States (narrowed down from over 60 based on the studies’ inclusion criteria) to examine the overall and differential effects of SfA on student reading achievement, as well as the study features that moderate the effects of SfA on reading achievement.
In evaluating the studies, Cheung and his colleagues found a positive mean effect size of +0.24. They also identified a series of indicators over time and for various groups. Most importantly, given the program’s intention of supporting the needs of high-poverty elementary schools, the study found that outcomes for low-achieving students (ES = +0.54) were significantly higher than outcomes for average/high achievers. The program also demonstrated effectiveness for African American (ES = +0.30) and White students (ES = +0.63), and for both English Learners (ES = +0.13) and non-English Learners (ES = +0.36). Effect sizes were strong over 1, 2, and 3 or more years of program implementation (ranging from +0.25 after 1 year, +0.46 after 2 years, and +0.19 after 3 or more years), and had statistically significant impacts on alphabetics (ES = +0.32) and general reading or comprehension outcomes (ES = +0.20).
The Success for All program is a whole-school approach focused on early grades with continued support intended to last into later elementary grades. The program includes a phonemic awareness and phonics-centered curriculum and provides professional development for teachers led by SfA coaches, literacy instructional practices and materials, and classroom management methods. SfA emphasizes certain practices including cooperative learning and regrouping, in which students are regrouped during reading instruction periods to matching reading performance levels. SfA has also been adapted into Spanish for bilingual programs (Lee Conmigo and Decubre Conmigo).
Robert Slavin designed Success for All together with his wife Nancy Madden.