Fostering Healthy Intervention Outcomes

Although students regularly move in and out of supplemental support in schools, there is little research to guide our decisions about when we can be reasonably confident that students are ready for that support to disappear. This is a fundamental issue for academic intervention programs like Reading Corps and Math Corps. Both programs must balance the need to serve as many students as possible with the need to ensure students who are served get (and stay) on track for academic success.

Some number of students who we believe to be on track fail to maintain adequate progress—but how many students? Assuming some students struggle to stay on track after leaving supplemental support, can we predict who those students are? Can we protect against regression in student performance after the removal of supplemental support?

Using data on student dosage and outcomes, our research activities under the project Fostering Healthy Post-Intervention Outcomes are designed to provide our programs and the broader research community with insight on how we can better ensure students who catch up to their peers, stay there.

Research Spotlight

Lessons from Sisyphus: Student growth after the removal of supplemental supporT

In this study, we worked with our colleagues to evaluate what happens to students after Reading Corps support is removed. We examined a large group of students who met fairly rigorous “exit criteria” for the program. These were students who demonstrated a level of performance that was at or above grade-level on a reading task. It is common for schools to conclude that students like this are ready to be exited from supplemental support. Unfortunately, our data suggest otherwise. Although many of these “exited” students continued to perform well after leaving Reading Corps, a large number of students regressed.

Post-intervention outcomes (click to enlarge)

The probability that a student who met an exit criterion during the school year would go to meet the end-of-year benchmark was about .59, and dropped to .45 when evaluating the probability of staying on track until the following fall. These results are surprising because all students included in the sample had responded well to extra support and caught up to their higher performing peers.

Based on the results from this study, our research team is currently evaluating a number of different ways that Reading Corps—as well as other supplemental reading interventions—might help ensure that students who receive academic support stay on track for the entirety of the school year and beyond.


Burns, M.K., Haegele, K., Zaslofsky, A., Parker, D. C., & Maki, K. (in press). Relationship between acquisition rate for words and working memory, short-term memory, and reading skills: Aptitude-by treatment or skill-by-treatment interaction? Assessment for Effective Intervention.

Nelson, P. M., Parker, D. C., & Zaslofsky, A. (2016). The relative value of growth in math fact skills across late elementary and middle schoolAssessment for Effective Intervention, 41, 184-192.

Burns, M. K., Ysseldyke, J., Nelson, P. M., & Kanive, R. (2015). Number of repetitions required to retain single-digit multiplication math facts for elementary studentsSchool Psychology Quarterly30(3), 398-405.

Nelson, P.M., Burns, M.K., Kanive, R., & Ysseldyke, J.E. (2013). Comparison of a computer-based practice program and a mnemonic strategy approach to improving math fact fluency. Journal of School Psychology, 51(6), 659-667.

Kanive, R., Nelson, P.M., Burns, M.K., & Ysseldyke, J.E. (2013). Comparison of the effects of computer-based practice and conceptual understanding interventions on math fact fluency. The Journal of Educational Research, 107(2), 83-89.

Burns, M. K., Zaslofsky, A. F., Kanive, R., & Parker, D. C. (2012). Meta-analyses of incremental rehearsal using phi coefficients to combine single-case and between-group designsJournal of Behavioral Education, 21, 185-202. 

Parker, D. C., & Burns, M. K., (2012).  Using Interest and Interspersing Novel Tasks to Facilitate Reading Engagement Outcomes. School Psychology Forum, 6, 64-76.   

Burns, M. K., Hodgson, J., Parker, D. C., & Fremont, K. (2011). Comparison of the effectiveness and efficiency of text previewing and preteaching keywords as small-group reading comprehension strategies with middle school students. Literacy Research and Instruction, 50, 241-252.

Burns, M. K. & Kwoka, H., Limm, B, Crone, M. Haegele, K., Parker, D. C., Peterson, S. & Scholin, S. E.  (2011). Minimum reading fluency necessary for comprehension among second-grade students. Psychology in the Schools, 48, 124-132.

Burns, M. K., Parker, D. C., & Scholin, S. E. (2011). Response to intervention at the secondary level.  In A. S. Canter, L. Z. Paige, M. D. Roth, I. Romero, S. A. Carroll (Eds.)  Helping children at home and school III: Handouts for families and educators. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Burns, M. K., Scholin, S. E., & Parker, D. C. (2011).  Response to intervention implementation fact sheet for K-12 school personnel.  In A. S. Canter, L. Z. Paige, M. D. Roth, I. Romero, S. A. Carroll (Eds.)  Helping children at home and school III: Handouts for families and educators. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Burns, M. K., Ardoin, S. A., Parker, D. C., Hodgson, J., Klingbeil, D. A., Scholin, S. E. (2009). Interspersal effect and behavioral momentum for reading tasksSchool Psychology Review, 38, 428-434.