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Can a Scaffolded Summer Reading Intervention Reduce Socioeconomic Gaps in Children’s Reading Comprehension Ability and Home Book Access? Results from a Randomized Experiment (WP-15-15)

Jonathan Guryan, James S. Kim, Lauren Capotosto, David M. Quinn, Helen Chen Kingston, Lisa Foster, and North Cooc

The researchers conducted a randomized experiment involving 824 third-grade children in 14 elementary schools (K-5) to examine the effects of a scaffolded summer reading intervention that provided books matched to children’s reading level and interests and teacher scaffolding in the form of end-of-year comprehension instruction. Within each school, children and teachers were randomly assigned to (a) a control condition involving six math lessons, (b) a treatment condition with six reading comprehension lessons and an afterschool family literacy event, and (c) an enhanced treatment that also included follow-up phone calls to parents.  During summer vacation, children in the treatment conditions received two lesson books and eight matched books.  A treatment by socioeconomic status (SES) interaction effect on reading comprehension posttests revealed larger positive effects for children in high poverty schools than children in moderate-high poverty schools.  In addition, among a random subsample of children (n = 121) who were part of a home visit study, there were positive treatment effects on the quantity and the diversity of books at home and trends suggested larger effects for children from low SES families.  The results highlight the variability in treatment effects across different school and family contexts. 

Jonathan GuryanAssociate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

James S. Kim, Associate Professor of Education, Harvard University

Lauren Capotosto, Assistant Professor of Education, College of the Holy Cross

David M. Quinn, Doctoral Candidate, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Helen Chen Kingston, Research Associate, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Lisa Foster, Associate Professor, Liberty University

North Cooc, Assistant Professor of Special Education, University of Texas, Austin

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