Evidence-Based Reviews

Hancock Study Author States Study Was Not Intended to Evaluate Read Naturally

Carrie Hancock sent an email to What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) stating that they should not publish a review of her study as a study to evaluate the effectiveness of Read Naturally. In her email, Carrie stated, "While I used Read Naturally materials, I did NOT fully implement the Read Naturally strategy and my study was NOT intended to evaluate the Read Naturally strategy. Rather, the purpose was to determine the impact of ongoing supplemental fluency practice on second grade students rates of learning to read." The response from Becki Herman, WWC's Project Director, was that WWC does not consider the purpose of the study and does not consider implementation.

The Carrie Hancock dissertation study, "Accelerating Reading Trajectories: The Effects of Dynamic Research Based Instructions" used Read Naturally passages but did not follow Read Naturally's recommended implementation. In fact, Carrie Hancock sent an e-mail message to What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) to explain to them that they should not review the effectiveness of Read Naturally based on her study. In her e-mail Carrie stated, "While I used Read Naturally materials, I did NOT fully implement the Read Naturally strategy and my study was NOT intended to evaluate the Read Naturally Strategy. Rather, the purpose was to determine the impact of ongoing supplemental fluency practice on second grade students rates of learning to read."

Clearly, the purpose of the Hancock study was to measure the rates of learning to read for second graders. It was not designed to use the Read Naturally strategy with struggling readers to measure the effectiveness of Read Naturally. The Hancock study did NOT place students according to the Read Naturally placement guidelines or implement the Read Naturally Strategy with fidelity. 

The following are some of the deviations the Hancock study made when placing students:

  • The study did not use the Read Naturally placement system to ensure students started at a level where they would be challenged and successful.
  • The study did not set goals based on an initial Read Naturally placement.
  • The study did not set individualized goals based on the Read Naturally placement system. The Hancock study had the same goal of 100 WCPM for every student.

The following are some of the deviations the Hancock study made when implementing the Read Naturally Strategy:

  • The study had every student doing three read alongs and five one minute practice timings while trying to achieve 100 WCPM. This was very inefficient. It would have been a punitive process for struggling students who could not achieve the goal in three read alongs and five practice reads and a boring process for students who could achieve the goal with fewer than eight readings of the passage.
  • The study did not use the Read Naturally goal and level adjustment guidelines to adjust the goal and level based on cold and final timings.
  • The study did not include a prediction step, key words step, or retell step.
  • The  study did not require students to meet the four criteria for the pass step recommended by Read Naturally (reach individualized goal rate, three or fewer errors, read with good expression, and answer all the questions correctly).
  • The study did not require students to go back and master the expression or questions criteria if they failed on the pass step.

Also, the study did not follow guidelines for the necessary ratio of 6 or 8 students to one adult. A group size of 10 to 12 would have made it impossible for a teacher assistant to get to students in a timely manner for cold and final timings. Students would have been sitting around waiting.

Not following Read Naturally’s placement, initial goal setting, adjusting goals and levels guidelines, and progress monitoring procedures would have destroyed the intrinsic motivation that is a hallmark of the Read Naturally Strategy.

Clearly, the results of the Hancock study cannot be used to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of Read Naturally. what Works Clearinghouse's review of this study as though it does evaluate Read Naturally provides the public with inaccurate information.

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