American Reading Company
The American Reading Company offers several reading programs online for grades K-12. The core program could possibly be defined as a Balanced Literacy program; however most of the program is focused on writing and comprehension, even in Kindergarten. The curriculum they list on their website, does include phonemic awareness, but only in Kindergarten and only in the first unit. I could not find any mention of phonics or morphology. For this reason, I would argue the program appears to be more Whole Language than Balanced Literacy. The program emphasises the use of levelled readers and corresponding writing instruction.
Ideally, we would use a peer reviewed meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy of a reading program. However, no such reading program exists in this case. I was able to find two studies on the topic.
The first study was a RCT, by Grace, Et al, conducted in 2020, on grade 1 and 2 students. This study compared the use of their program to a business as usual approach. The authors failed to mention any findings for decoding and writing, despite conducting tests in this area, stating only that equivocal results were found. For this reason I coded these effect sizes as 0. The study included 1589 students and I was able to find a mean effect size of .15.
The second study was a quasi-experimental study conducted by DuCette, Et al in 1999, on grades 1-3. The study included 3110 students. The study also had students try to read 100 books in a grade. This study showed a mean result of .63. They included effect sizes for the overall and grade 3, but not for grades 1 and 2.
This program appears to be mostly a whole language program, which typically shows very low results. The mean result found here was low moderate. However, it could be inflated. As the program only has two studies and one of those studies had significantly higher results than the other. The study with high results excluded data for 2 of the three grades, examined, which could be called suspicious. Moreover, I think it is very concerning that the program showed no benefit for student decoding and writing levels.
Final Grade: C-
The program principles have been shown to have a statistically insignificant ES, within research.
Qualitative Grade: 1/10
The program shows sufficient examples of comprehension instruction, within their advertised curriculum, but does not show sufficient examples of other types of important instruction.
Disclaimer: Please note that this review is not peer reviewed content. These reviews are independently conducted. Pedagogy Non Grata, does not take profit from conducting any program review found on this website.
Written by Nathaniel Hansford: teacher and lead writer for Pedagogy Non Grata
Last Edited 2022-04-13
J, DuCette. 1999. An Evaluation of the
“100 Book Challenge Program”. Temple University. Retrieved from <https://www.americanreading.com/documents/report-ducette_1999.pdf>.
A, Gray. (2020). Zoology One. Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Retrieved from <https://www.americanreading.com/documents/cpre-study.pdf>.