Nov 03, 2008


Researchers investigated longitudinally whether Project IRIS (Intensive Reading Intervention Study) participants were identified as students with disabilities, provided service by the Accelerated Learning Program, or were retained a grade; and examined whether gains made by students in the experimental group after the cessation of intervention and are significantly different from students in the control group through the examination of three years of reading data. Despite being at risk for below-grade-level reading performance, most Project IRIS experimental group students were not eventually identified as students with disabilities or retained in grade.


Project IRIS was an early school intervention program that intended to avert the development of literacy problems, rather than to correct established reading problems. It was specifically designed to help first grade students experiencing reading difficulty meet grade-level standards and show sufficient progress to maintain that status in future years. At the time Project IRIS was implemented, students having difficulty in reading may have been helped solely by the classroom teacher or by classroom teachers and supplemental services. Students with reading difficulties may have been placed in special education programs, especially if they were identified as learning disabled. Students with limited skills in English might have received English as a Second Language services as well. Some schools offered the Accelerated Learning Program at the primary grades (called ALP II or ALP K-2) which includes brief instruction in several components of reading four days a week. Most students selected to participate in Project IRIS were receiving and continued to receive this supplemental service. After second grade, remedial support would primarily provides tutoring support. Some schools also used Title I funds to provide supplemental services at grades 3-5 (e.g., small group instruction, tutoring, and parent involvement activities).

Target population: Elementary school-age students


Rhea, A., & Baenon, N. (2007).Project Iris: Intensive Reading Intervention Study, A Three-year Follow-Up. Raleigh, NC. Wake County Public Schools System.

Evaluated population: 124 fourth-grade students from six elementary schools in Wake County, North Carolina participated in the study.

Approach: The selection process at each school began with class lists of first grade students who had been referred to the Student Support Team. Students were ranked according to their running record book-level results, and 20 students from the lowest quartile were randomly selected to take an assessment. The students with scores above 70 (indicating a need for remediation requiring more time than 10 weeks) were eliminated. The remaining students constituted the drawing pool from which 10 students from every 1st grade class were randomly selected to control and experimental groups.

Experimental group students met with tutors for an average of 45 minutes at least four times per week for ten weeks. The reading intervention was individualized rather than prescribed, in that tutors assessed the needs of each student and offered appropriate interventions which typically included lessons in phonemic awareness, decoding and encoding, text reading, comprehension strategies, fluency, and oral language.

All students were tested at the beginning and end of the cycle on a number of measures, including running record book-level, rapid automatic naming, phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, decoding, and sight words.

Results: The intervention provided by Project IRIS did not appear to produce a more measurable impact on educational placement in the control group. Students in both the experimental and control groups were placed in special education, provided remedial support, or retained in grade at about the same rates between grades 1 and 4.



Rhea, A., & Baenon, N. (2007). Project Iris: Intensive Reading Intervention Study, A Three-year Follow-Up. Raleigh, NC. Wake County Public Schools System.

KEYWORDS: Literacy,School-Based, Elementary School, Education, Cognitive Development, At-Risk, Early Childhood (0-5), Middle Childhood (6-11), Black or African American, White or Caucasian.

Program information last updated 11/3/08