Leveled Literacy Intervention for Secondary Students: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Oakland Schools

Publisher: Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research
Feb 22, 2018
Naihobe Gonzalez, Sophie MacIntyre, and Pilar Beccar-Varela

Key Findings:

  • Students experienced different levels of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) duration and intensity, and most fell short of the recommended minimum number of sessions.
  • Schools faced numerous challenges implementing (1) delayed start dates and varying end dates, (2) tradeoffs between pullout groups and scheduled classes, (3) skipped and modified lesson components, (4) limited teacher training, and (5) students’attendance and engagement at the high school level.
  • LLI had no impact on students’ reading comprehension and a negative impact on mastery of English language arts/literacy standards.
  • Students who received more LLI or were pulled out of other classes to receive LLI were particularly negatively affected, possibly as a result of missing grade-level content.

Too many youth leave high school without the literacy skills that colleges and employers demand. In the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), about half of secondary students read multiple years below their grade level. Despite many promising programs designed to increase literacy among younger students, schools struggle with finding effective ways for accelerating older, struggling readers. In search of a solution, OUSD began piloting Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), an intensive reading program, in secondary schools in 2015. Many school districts across the country have used LLI, which has shown promise in improving outcomes for students in early elementary grades. This research brief summarizes findings on the implementation and impacts of LLI in Oakland, where the district conducted the nation’s first randomized controlled trial of LLI in secondary grades.