Based on the successful 2019 pilot program (Ironi Gimel School Lab) and the successful collaboration between middle schools, the Faculty of Education, and the Edmond J. Safra Center, we continued this project in 2019-2020 and expanded it. The school-lab model was based on the response-to-intervention (RTI) model, which emphasizes school-based screening, data-based decision making, research-based intervention, and progress monitoring.
This project is a novel model for supporting middle school students with reading and reading comprehension difficulties. Support was provided to the students in their natural school setting during school hours. The main goal of the project was to disseminate research-based best practices at schools and to provide profile-based support to students at risk for reading difficulties.
In the 2019-2020 school year, the School Lab in the Ironi Gimel middle school continued and was expanded to 4 classes in Grade 7.
Screening: The screening in 2020 included literacy measures (reading comprehension, fluency, strategies questionnaire) and socioemotional measures (motivation) and was administered to 82 Grade 7 students. The data was shared with the school staff and, based on a process of data-based decision making and teachers’ information and in collaboration with the school staff, about 40 students were selected to receive the reading comprehension intervention.
Reading intervention program: Dr. Orly Lipka, Tal Rand (coordinator and supervisor), and practicum students led the intervention part of the model at the Ironi Gimel middle school, in collaboration with the principal and staff. In the intervention, emphasis was placed on strengthening reading comprehension skills while encouraging and cultivating independent abilities. In addition, foundational skills were strengthened to support reading comprehension among students with difficulties. The practicum students developed about 10 lesson plans to promote reading comprehension skills, motivation, and reading self-esteem. The intervention focuses on students that struggle the most with reading comprehension and is provided in small groups (about 3 students). Overall, about 35 students received support.
Progress monitoring: By the end of the intervention program, measures that assessed reading comprehension and motivation were administered to all students in the 4 classes. In most cases there was significant progress and the intervention program was able to promote reading comprehension skills and strategies. Class data on each skill was provided to the school.
Figure 1: Grade 7 end of intervention program class performance on reading comprehension measure