Program

May 20, 2009

OVERVIEW

The Voluntary Summer Reading
Intervention aims to stem summer learning loss in students by encouraging them
to read at home during the summer months when they are out of school. Fourth
grade children received eight books over a summer (one book every two weeks).
The program impacted reading skills of black students. Impacts were
significantly greater for students in the following subpopulations: children who
reported owning fewer than 100 books (compared with those owning 100 or more
books), children who reported owning fewer than 50 children’s books compared
with those owning 50 or more children’s books, students whose spring Iowa Test
of Basic Skills scores were below the median, and children in the low reading
fluency group compared with children in the high reading fluency group.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Elementary school students

The Voluntary Summer Reading Intervention is designed to get kids to read by
sending them free books over the summer break. Students receive eight books and
are encouraged by their teachers to practice read aloud at home with a family
member. The intervention lasts one summer. The children in the treatment group
receive one book every two weeks and each book comes with a postcard that the
student sends back marking what strategies he or she used to read the book and
whether he or she read the book. Books were matched based on the child’s
preferences indicated on a survey.

With each book came a postcard
with two sets of questions. The first set asked students to write down the title
of the book and whether they read it or not. The next question was, “What did
you do to better understand this book? (check all that apply). The answer
choices included strategies learned in school the past spring. The final
question encouraged the child to read 100 words aloud to his or her parent
twice, and a line was provided so the parent could sign saying the child did so.
The postcard also asked whether the student recognized more words or understood
the passage better after reading it aloud the second time. The control students
received the same materials that treatment students did after summer vacation
ended.

Teachers participating in the
treatment condition attended a two hour training session after school to learn
how to administer the reading tests, how to administer the surveys, and how to
teach the reading lessons. The teachers reviewed five comprehension strategies
that help children understand text during silent reading: re-reading, asking
questions, making predictions, summarizing, and making connections to self and
to other text. The participating teachers were also directed to encourage
students to do paired reading at home, where they will read aloud to someone to
increase fluency.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Kim, J. (2006). The Effects
of a Voluntary Summer Reading Intervention on Reading Achievement: Results from
a Randomized Field Trial. Irvine, CA, University of California Irvine: 44.

Evaluated population: The sample in this study consisted of 552 fourth-grade students in 34 classrooms
in 10 schools. Of the students,33% were white, 19% were black, 26% were
Latino, 17% were asian, and 5% were another ethnicity. Thirty-nine percent of
the students received a free or reduced lunch, 38% had limited English
proficiency, and 26% went to a Title I school. The mean age of the sample was
10.2 years old.

Approach:
The 552 students were randomly assigned to treatment
and control groups within their English language arts classroom.

Students’ reading skills were
assessed in the spring semester and in the fall semester when the summer ended.
At pretest and posttest, the authors measured silent reading, oral reading
(words correctly read per minute), and book ownership (number of children’s
books in the student’s house). Students also completed a measure of reading
achievement and a test of oral fluency. Attitudes toward academic reading and
recreational reading were also assessed.

Results:There was no significant main impact on literacy habits scores. The treatment
impact for reading scores overall was significant. For Latino and also for black
students, the impact on reading skills was marginally significant. The treatment
did not have a significant impact on oral fluency outcomes.

There were significant impacts
for four subpopulations: children who reported owning fewer than 100 books,
children who reported owning fewer than 50 children’s books, students whose
spring reading skill scores were below the median, and children in the low
reading fluency group. Effect sizes were larger, but still small in absolute
terms, for children who reported owning fewer than 100 books (effect size =
0.10) than children with 100 or more books. Effect sizes were also larger for
children with fewer than 50 children’s books (effect size = 0.13) compared with
children owning 50 or more children’s books. The subgroup of students whose
spring reading skill scores were below the median had a greater impact (effect
size = 0.10) from the program than those whose scores were above the median.
Students in the low reading fluency group had a greater impact from the program
(effect size = 0.17) compared with students in the high reading fluency group.

SOURCES FOR MORE
INFORMATION

References:

Kim, J. (2006). The Effects of
a Voluntary Summer Reading Intervention on Reading Achievement: Results from a
Randomized Field Trial. Irvine, CA, University of California Irvine: 44.

SUMMARY & CATEGORIZATION

Program categorized in this
guide according to the following:

Evaluated participant ages:
Fourth grade students.

Program components: Parent or
family.

Measured outcomes: Education and
Cognitive Development.

KEYWORDS: White or Caucasian,
Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native,
Asian, School-Based, Home-Based, Education, Elementary, Children (3-11), Middle
Childhood (6-11), Reading.

Program information last updated 5/20/09.