SPIRE is a reading program developed by EPS, as an intervention tool for struggling readers. The program takes an interesting approach, in that while it uses logical scaffolding, it applies the scaffolding across the lesson, rather than the unit. Opposed to teaching students fundamental skills like phonemic awareness, and phonics, before teaching fluency, it aims to teach all of these skills simultaneously. In this way SPIRE reminds me of a balanced literacy; however, it is clearly not balanced literacy, as the program uses the explicit instruction of phonemes, opposed to implicit instruction. Each lesson covers: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling.
Another interesting component to this program is its use of Response to Intervention (RTI). RTI has been shown to be the most effective tool for increasing literacy levels, within the literature. Indeed, according to Hattie, the impact size of RTI is almost double that of phonics, with a mean ES of 1.09, compared to the mean ES of phonic, which is .57. Despite the effectiveness of RTI, very few literacy programs use it.
In order to have properly assessed the efficacy of SPIRE, I would have liked to have used a peer-reviewed meta-analysis. For the purpose of this analysis I searched for studies on the company website, Google, Education Source, and Sage Pub. All studies that did not either have a control group or sufficient data to find effect sizes were excluded. Effect sizes were calculated using Cohen's d if they had sample sizes above 50 and Hedge's g if they had sample sizes below 50. I was able to locate 2 relevant studies.
A, Grippi (2006): In 2006 Grippi, et al. published the first study. This study was a case study of students in grades 2-9. This study was published in the International Journal of Arts & Sciences. Based on the WJ-III assessment, the study found a Hedge’s g effect size for reading of .42, for word ID of .23, for word attack of .73, and a mean effect size of .46 overall. That being said, the study was small with only 19 students, did not have a control group, and did not track fidelity in any way.
M, Gallagher 2019: The second study was published by Gallagher, et al. in 2019. This study was an experimental study that included 444 students from grades 2-6. This study used the ORF fluency assessment. It found a mean effect size of .99 for grade 2, .43 for grade 3, .63 for grade 4, .41 for grade 5, .68 for grade 6, .43 and an overall mean effect size of .63. This study also found an overall effect size of .43 for fluency, 1.56 for reading accuracy, and .31 for vocabulary. This study almost met tier 1 quality, as it was randomized, had a sufficient sample size, and duration; however, it was not clear if pre-test scores were equivalent. Moreover, not all students in the control group received an equivalent treatment. Lastly, fidelity was not tracked for the study. For these reasons, the study met the ESSA qualifications of tier 2 (moderate evidence). Because, the Gallagher 2019 study was so much higher in efficacy quality than the 2006 Grippi study, I think it should be looked at as the best measure of efficacy for SPIRE.
I really like that SPIRE uses RTI; however, I am not a fan of how it scaffolds concepts via individual lessons, rather than according to students' individual needs or mastery. That being said, SPIRE is specifically an intervention program for at-risk and dyslexic readers and so far, it has the second highest results I have seen within this category of comparison. Moreover, one of the only program with higher results, Empower Reading, has only one study, whereas this program has three. For these reasons, as of the date of my writing this article, I can say that SPIRE is one of the most evidence-based reading program for Dyslexic students that I have reviewed so far. It particularly shows high outcomes for primary aged students and for reading accuracy.
Final Grade: A-
One rigorous study that shows a mean effect size of .40 or higher on standardized tests.
Qualitative Grade: 10/10
The program includes the following essential types of instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, morphology, fluency, comprehension, spelling individualized and direct-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 2022-09-16
M, Gallagher. (2019). S.P.I.R.E. Intensive Reading Intervention: A Comparative Analysis at Second Through Sixth. Spire. Retrieved from <https://eps.schoolspecialty.com/EPS/media/Site-Resources/Downloads/research-papers/Study-Intensive-Reading-Intervention-Gallagher-2019-SPIRE.pdf>.
M, Wilger. (2008). Spring Independent SchoolDistrict (ISD),TX 2007-2008 SchoolYear. Auto Skill International. Retrieved from <https://eps.schoolspecialty.com/EPS/media/Site-Resources/Downloads/studies/ES_Spring_TX.pdf>.
A, Grippi. (2006). Teaching the Disruptive Child to Read: An Evaluation of the SPIRE Reading Program. International Journal of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved from <https://eps.schoolspecialty.com/EPS/media/Site-Resources/Downloads/Miscellaneous/spire/teaching-the-disruptive-child.pdf?ext=.pdf>.
J, Hattie. (2022). Meta-X. Visible Learning. Retrieved from <https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/influences>.
Elleman, A.M., Lindo, E.J., Morphy, P., & Compton, D.L. (2009). The impact of vocabulary instruction on passage-level comprehension of school-age children: A meta-analysis. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2(1), 1–44. https://doi.org/10.1080/1934574080 2539200