Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WWC Reviews Research on Two Literacy Programs


New reports from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review the research on Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and Odyssey Reading, two programs that aim to improve adolescent literacy.

• Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies is a supplementary reading program designed to improve students’ reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension by incorporating peer-tutoring instruction. This WWC report focuses on Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies programs for grades 2–6 and high school. The WWC reviewed 97 studies that investigated the effects of this program on improving adolescent literacy. One study, a randomized controlled trial, meets WWC evidence standards with reservations. The study included 120 students who were, on average, 9.8 years old and attended elementary and middle schools in a southern state. Based on this study, the WWC found the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies program to have potentially positive effects on comprehension for adolescent learners. Read the full report now at

• Odyssey Reading is a web-based K–12 reading/language arts program that uses an interactive, differentiated instructional approach to teach students phonics, context, decoding, and comprehension. The program includes electronic curricula and materials for individual or small-group work, assessments aligned with state curriculum standards, and a data management system that allows teachers to develop individualized instruction and assessment tools to track individual student and classroom performance. The WWC reviewed 27 studies that investigated the effects of Odyssey Reading on improving adolescent literacy, none of which meet WWC evidence standards. Therefore, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Odyssey Reading on adolescent learners. Read the full report now at


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