Reading failure in elementary school is highly correlated with future academic and social problems. Schools commonly use Tier 2 reading interventions in Response to Intervention (RtI) frameworks to help close the gap between at-risk readers and their peers who read on grade-level. This dissertation presents the findings of a quasi-experimental research study of the effects of three Tier 2 reading interventions in an urban Title I elementary school's RtI framework. A regression discontinuity design (RDD) with two cutoff points was used to assign 320 students in grades 1-6 to two types of Tier 2 reading interventions administered by paraeducators: direct instruction (DI) and computer-assisted instruction (CAI). Students were assigned using normal curve equivalent reading composite scores on the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement II, Brief Form (KTEA-II BFR). Students scoring below a lower cutoff were assigned to a DI reading intervention, while students scoring at or below an upper cutoff and above the lower cutoff were assigned to CAI reading interventions. January and May posttest iterations of the KTEA-II BFR served as outcome measures for all students. Results of the analysis indicated that the DI intervention was more effective than the CAI interventions at the lower cutoff (p < .01). Participation in CAI interventions was not any more or less effective than business-as-usual reading activities (p > .10). These findings suggest that that CAI programs may not be as helpful in closing the achievement gap between struggling students and their peers as DI interventions, and should be implemented with deliberation.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation



Date Submitted


Document Type





computer-assisted instruction, direct instruction, English language learners, reading interventions, regression discontinuity design, response to intervention