The Adventure Island after school reading program uses the theme of a tropical island to teach phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, strategic reading, and comprehension. Evaluations of the program found that the Adventure Island program did not have any significant impact on students’ performance on reading tests or academic behaviors as compared with students in a regular after-school program.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: Low-income students in the second through fifth grades who attend low-performing schools.
The Adventure Island after school reading program is built around the theme of a tropical island, and each 45-minute lesson switches quickly from one exercise or activity to the next. Its lessons focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, strategic reading, and comprehension. There are several different levels of the program to accommodate students of different reading levels, and the curriculum for each level is designed to be offered four days per week for 45 minutes per day. Students receive an average of 176 minutes of reading instruction every week either through four 45-minute lessons or three 60-minute lessons. Daily lessons involve reading stories, having group discussions about the stories, and reading texts that promote vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension. Adventure Island teachers are taught to use a reward system including special cheers, points for good attendance and performance, and team and individual prizes for good work.
Adventure Island also uses certified and experienced teachers, and each classroom has a 10:1 student-teacher ratio. Adventure Island instructors receive support throughout their involvement with the project. They are provided with all their materials, and receive on-site technical assistance. Teachers are also paid for 30 minutes of preparation time each day. District coordinators conduct classroom observations to provide background information on program implementation.
EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM
Study 1: Black, A.R., Doolittle, F., Zhu, P., Unterman, R., Grossman, J.B., Warner, E. (2008). The Evaluation of Enhanced Academic Instruction in After-School Programs: Findings After the First Year of Implementation. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20084021.asp
Evaluated population: 2,063 students participated in the study. 57 percent were randomly assigned to the Adventure Island program, while 43 percent were randomly assigned to the regular after-school program. Most of the students were black (61 percent) or Hispanic (26 percent), and 88 percent were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Approach: Participating students were randomly assigned to either the Adventure Island after-school reading program or to the regular after-school reading program. At the time of their enrollment, students’ knowledge of vocabulary, decoding, and word meaning was assessed, and they were placed in the appropriate program level based on scores. Their reading skills were tested once more in December (and students were moved to a higher/lower reading level if necessary).
Results: The one-year evaluation revealed that the students in the Adventure Island program did not experience any significant impact in their performance on reading tests or on academic behaviors as compared with students in the regular after-school program. No significant impacts were noted even when controlling for baseline differences.
Study 2: Black, A.R., Somers, M.A., Doolittle, F., Unterman, R., Grossman, J.B., Warner, E(2009). The Evaluation of Enhanced Academic Instruction in After-School Programs: Final Report. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
Evaluated population: The evaluated sample consists of two cohorts. Cohort 1 was composed students from the first year of the study (see Study 1 above) who had follow up data for at least one year. Cohort 1 had a total of 905 students, of whom approximately 37 percent were Black, 40 percent were Hispanic and 15 percent were White. The majority of students (approximately 83 percent) were from low-income families, and approximately 29 percent came from a single-parent household. The students had an average age of 8.6 years. Cohort 2, consisting of students recruited in the second year of the study and students from the first year who were maintained in the sample, had a total of 626 students. Approximately 37 percent of the students were Black, 40 percent were Hispanic, and 16 percent were White. Approximately 82 percent of the students were from low-income families, and 27 percent were from single-parent households.
Approach: This study used the same approach as Study 1 (above). At the end of the first year, students that wished to continue in the study were randomly assigned a second time to intervention or control. Those students that were assigned to the intervention group for both years are compared with students who were assigned to the control group both years in order to determine the effects of participation in the enhanced program for two consecutive years.
Results: Participation in the program for one year did not produce any significant impacts on reading test scores compared with students in the control group. Participation in the intervention group for two consecutive years produced significant negative impacts on reading test scores, meaning that students who participated in both years of the enhanced program had lower reading scores than participants who participated in the regular after school reading program for two years. The authors state that this result may be due to chance, since the result was no longer significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons. The enhanced program did not produce significant impacts on homework completion, attentiveness, or disruptiveness in class after one or two years of participation.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Black, A.R., Doolittle, F., Zhu, P., Unterman, R., Grossman, J.B., Warner, E. (2008). The Evaluation of Enhanced Academic Instruction in After-School Programs: Findings After the First Year of Implementation. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20084021.asp
Black, A.R., Somers, M.A., Doolittle, F., Unterman, R., Grossman, J.B., Warner, E. (2009). The Evaluation of Enhanced Academic Instruction in After-School Programs: Final Report. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
Children (3-11), High-Risk, Elementary School, School-Based, Education and Cognitive Development, Phonological Awareness, Mentoring, Tutoring, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Skills Training, Reading/Literacy
Program information last updated 11/2/2011.