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. However, no such analysis exists so I conducted my own. While EPS has conducted a large amount of sponsored research on the program, only 3 studies could be used for the purposes of meta-analysis, as the majority of studies conducted did not have enough statistical reporting to be used.
M, Gallagher 2019: Despite being company sponsored this study was the most well done. The experimental design was a randomnized control trial, and used 444 students from grades 2-6 and kept detailed reporting.
M, Wilger (2008): This study, although not an RCT or peer reviewed, had the largest sample size of 3952 students from grades 2-9. That being said, the study was company sponsored and included little statistical detail.
A, Grippi (2006): This quasi-experimental study of grade 2-9 students was the only relevant, peer-reviewed study I could find on the topic. However, the sample size of 19 was very small and its results might therefore not be reliable.
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: B+
A meta-analysis found the program to have a mean ES of .50-.59.
Qualitative Grade: 4/7
The program includes the following essential principles of an intervention program: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and direct-instruction.
Written by Nathaniel Hansford
Last Edited 2022-06-2
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