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Research

  • LLI
    The authors of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, are committed to the important role of research in the development and ongoing evaluation of LLI.

    Independent Gold Standard Study

    LLI Efficacy Study 2009-2010–rural and suburban schools

    LLI Efficacy Study 2009-2010The LLI Efficacy Study was conducted by an independent research group, the Center for Research in Education Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis. This scientific study looked at the impact of LLI instruction on struggling readers in two locations: the rural Tifton County Schools in GA and the suburban Enlarged School District of Middletown, NY. The LLI Efficacy study employed a randomized controlled trial, mixed-methods design and included both quantitative and qualitative data. Students were randomly selected for the treatment or control groups. A matched-pair design was used to ensure equivalency between treatment and control groups, and pre-post comparisons of student achievement in literacy were conducted. In addition, the study looked at the fidelity of LLI implementation. It included both independent observations and feedback from teachers and independent on-site researchers. These included two measures of reading achievement for evaluating students' progress in literacy; one observational tool for assessing teachers' LLI instructional practices; and two teacher surveys and focus groups to obtain teachers' and on-site researchers' feedback on LLI .

    Review the LLI Efficacy Study »
    Read the Executive Summary of this study »

    LLI Efficacy Study 2010
    LLI Efficacy Executive Summary 2010


    LLI Efficacy Study 2011-2012–urban schools

    LLI Efficacy Study 2011-2012 An additional independent LLI Efficacy Study was conducted by the Center for Research in Education Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis examining the efficacy of LLI instruction on struggling readers in urban districts in Denver, Colorado. A total of 320 K–2 students participated in this mixed-methods randomized controlled trial (RCT) that included both quantitative and qualitative data. The students were matched demographically and randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. There were four key purposes of this study: (1) to determine the efficacy of the Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) in increasing literacy achievement for urban K–2 students and associated student subgroups; (2) to examine LLI System implementation fidelity in urban settings; (3) to determine perceptions of the LLI System according to relevant stakeholders; and (4) to corroborate the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System with established literacy assessments (i.e., the Developmental Reading Assessment, 2nd Edition [DRA2] and the STAR Early Literacy Assessment).

    Review the LLI Efficacy 2011-2012 Denver Study »
    Read the Executive Summary of this study »

    LLI Efficacy Study 2012
    LLI Efficacy Executive Summary 2013

    Heinemann LLI Research and Data Collection Project

    2009/2010

    The Heinemann LLI Data Collection Project was conducted by Liz Ward, Ph.D., a researcher working for Heinemann under the direction of Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. This study was descriptive and described reading gains for students enrolled in the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) System at 34 sites around the United States and Canada. Individual data forms reporting on student demographics, teacher experience, implementation parameters, and performance data for LLI students were completed by LLI teachers, collected at the district level, and sent to the researcher conducting the study. Each student's reading progress was determined by looking at their pre- and post-LLI instructional reading levels (ranging from Pre-A to Z), which were based on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. The instructional reading levels were obtained through the teachers' reports of their students' instructional reading levels, which were determined by administration of the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System or reading records or by the conversion to F&P levels on the teacher's reports of their students' score on other assessments including the DRA or DRA2, the Reading Recovery Observation Survey with Running Records, the Rigby Benchmark, and other reading assessments. The data were collected and reported for LLI students only. No control group was identified and assessed and therefore, the LLI student growth was compared to Fountas and Pinnell grade-level criteria for satisfactory progress.

    Read the Executive Summary of this project here »

    LLI Research and Data Collection Project Report

    Reading Progress for Special Education LLI students
    Heinemann's LLI Data Collection Project (2009-2010) included 824 kindergarten through fifth-grade students with an IEP for Reading or other categories (SPED). With Leveled Literacy Intervention these students made an average of seven and a half months of progress in a little more than four and a half months. Read a summary of these results here.

    LLI Research Reading Progress for Special Education

    Reading Progress for English language learner LLI students
    Out of the total LLI student sample from Heinemann's LLI Data Collection Project (2009-2010), 925 of the kindergarten through fifth-grade students were reported to be English language learners (ELL). Learn how the reading progress of these English language learners accelerated in LLI in the summary report.

    LLI Research Reading Progress for ELL

    Heinemann LLI Reports 2009–2010

    Abby Kelley Foster Charter School MA

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Abby Kelley Foster Charter School MA
    The Heinemann Research and Data Collection project was conducted by independent researchers under the supervision of Fountas and Pinnell. This descriptive study evaluated the reading gains for students enrolled in Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) at sites around the United States and Canada via self-reported data. The following report describes reading gains for students enrolled in LLI at the Abby Kelly Foster Charter School in Worcester, Massachusetts during the 2009-2010 school year.

    Asheboro City Schools NC

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Asheboro City Schools NC
    The Heinemann Research and Data Collection project was conducted by independent researchers under the supervision of Fountas and Pinnell. This descriptive study evaluated the reading gains for students enrolled in Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) at sites around the United States and Canada via self-reported data. The following report describes reading gains for students enrolled in LLI in the Asheboro City Schools, Asheboro, North Carolina during the 2009-2010 school year.

    Barrington IL

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Barrington IL
    The Heinemann Research and Data Collection project was conducted by independent researchers under the supervision of Fountas and Pinnell. This descriptive study evaluated the reading gains for students enrolled in Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) at sites around the United States and Canada via self-reported data. The following report describes reading gains for students enrolled in LLI at the Bloomfield Elementary School in the Bloomfield School District in Bloomfield, Indiana during the 2009-2010 school year.

    Bloomfield IN

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Bloomfield IN
    The Heinemann Research and Data Collection project was conducted by independent researchers under the supervision of Fountas and Pinnell. This descriptive study evaluated the reading gains for students enrolled in Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) at sites around the United States and Canada via self-reported data. The following report describes reading gains for students enrolled in LLI at the Bloomfield Elementary School in the Bloomfield School District in Bloomfield, Indiana during the 2009-2010 school year.

    Branksome Hall CAN

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Branksome Hall Toronto Canada
    The Heinemann Research and Data Collection project was conducted by independent researchers under the supervision of Fountas and Pinnell. This descriptive study evaluated the reading gains for students enrolled in Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) at sites around the United States and Canada via self-reported data. The following report describes reading gains for students enrolled in LLI at the private Branksome Hall school for girls situated in Toronto, Canada during the 2009-2010 school year. 

    Bristol Public Schools

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Bristol Public Schools
    The Heinemann Research and Data Collection project was conducted by independent researchers under the supervision of Fountas and Pinnell. This descriptive study evaluated the reading gains for students enrolled in Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) at sites around the United States and Canada via self-reported data. The following report describes reading gains for students enrolled in LLI in the Bristol Public Schools in Bristol, Connecticut  during the 2009-2010 school year. 

    Brunswick ME

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Brunswick ME

    Buncombe County Schools NC

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Buncombe County Schools NC

    Cambridge MA

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Cambridge MA

    Dalton Public Schools GA

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Dalton Public Schools GA

    Denver Public Schools CO

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Denver Public Schools CO

    District Southeast Region US

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - District Southeast Region US

    District Mixed Rural Suburban Northeast Region US

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - District Mixed Rural Suburban Northeast Region US

    East Central Vermont Literacy Consortium

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - East Central Vermont Literacy Consortium

    Enlarged City School District of Middletown NY

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - School District of Middletown NY

    Ephesus Road Elementary School Chapel Hill NC

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Ephesus Road Elementary School Chapel Hill NC

    Farmington CT

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Farmington CT

    Fort Fairfield Elementary - MSAD 20 - ME

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Fort Fairfield Elementary - MSAD 20 - ME

    High Prairie Elementary School Canada

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - High Prairie Elementary School Canada

    Imagine Rosefield Elementary School Surprise AZ

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Imagine Rosefield Elementary School Surprise AZ

    Large, Suburban District in Southeast Texas

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Large, Suburban District in Southeast Texas

    Lincoln Public Schools

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Lincoln Public Schools

    Luther Low Elementary School in West Middlesex PA

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Luther Low Elementary School in West Middlesex PA

    Manchester NH

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Manchester NH

    Monroe Public Schools MI

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Monroe Public Schools MI

    Newark City Schools OH

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Newark City Schools OH

    Northwest VT Reading Recovery Consortium

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Northwest VT Reading Recovery Consortium

    School Board in Mixed Small Town and Rural Community Located in Nova Scotia, Canada

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - School Board in Mixed Small Town and Rural Community Located in Nova Scotia, Canada

    School in a Mixed Suburban and Urban Community in the Southeast Region of the United States

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - School in a Mixed Suburban and Urban Community in the Southeast Region of the United States

    School in an Urban Community in the Northeast Region of the United States

    LLLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - School in an Urban Community in the Northeast Region of the United States

    Sunnyside Elementary IN

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Sunnyside Elementary IN

    Urban Community in the Northeast Region of US

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Urban Community in the Northeast Region of US

    Washington County MD

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Washington County MD

    Woodview Elementary School IN

    LLI Data Collection Project Report 2009-2010 - Woodview Elementary School IN


    2010/2011

    Read about the continuing use of LLI in the second report documenting Heinemann's own Research and Data Collection Project. This report analyzes data collected during 2010-2011 school year. Over 2,600 students from 114 schools from 11 states participated in this study. Results show on average a time equivalent gain in reading level of about 9 months after just 4.5 months of LLI instruction.

    Read the Executive Summary of this project here »

    LLI Research and Data Collection Project Full Report

    Research Base

    Leveled Literacy Intervention, Grades K–2 (Levels A–N)
    The development of LLI was driven by what prior research has established about how children learn to read, and what works best with struggling readers. Please refer to the research base for more information regarding the background research that provided the foundation for the development of this intervention system.

    LLI Research Base
    This document details the research on which Leveled Literacy Intervention and its components are based.
     

    Leveled Literacy Intervention, Grades 3–12 (Levels L–Z)
    In this summary, Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell review the research base for the Red, Gold, Purple and Teal systems of Leveled Literacy Intervention, which is designed to lift the literacy achievement of students who are falling below grade level expectations in reading. The 15 principles on which the LLI Red, Gold, Purple and Teal systems are based are discussed, along with a list of supporting research. The lesson framework for the extended systems of LLI rests on these principles.

    LLI Research Base Summary Grades 3 to 12
    In this research summary, Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell review the research base for the Red, Gold, Purple and Teal Systems of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)—designed to lift the literacy achievement of students who are falling below grade level expectations in reading. Each of the 15 principles that undergird the intermediate, middle and high school systems of LLI are discussed, along with a list of the supporting research. The lesson framework of LLI rests on these principles. 

    Research connected with the Development of LLI

    During the development of LLI, a field study was conducted at sites around the United States to assess the LLI framework. Please refer to the field study for more information about the field study and the research connected with the development of LLI.

    LLI Research Field Study Results and Participants

    Additionally, the student data from three of the sites that participated in the field study (Newark OH, Boston MA and Manchester NH) was analyzed for a pilot research project that examined student progress. Please refer to the pilot study, for the results from this study.

    LLI Research Reading Gains for Students in Pilot Program
  • BAS

    The authors of Benchmark Assessment System (BAS), Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, are committed to the important role of research in the development and ongoing evaluation of BAS.

    Research Background

    After the construction of the Benchmark Assessment System, an outside evaluation team conducted an independent study of the system's reliability and validity as a way of measuring reading progress against grade-level criteria. An independent agency reviewed the data. The first stage of the study provided valuable information for adjusting the difficulty of texts in detailed ways. The second stage provided data to assure that the texts provide a true gradient—that is, that each level is more difficult than the previous level and is easier than the next level. The study also provided information on internal consistency—that the fiction and nonfiction selections at each level are equivalent. The assessment was also correlated with the existing Reading Recovery® leveled assessment and a close fit was discovered. You can review either the Executive Summary or the Full Report.

    BAS 2e Executive Summary
    This document is the Executive Summary of the Field Study of Reliability and Validity done on the Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Second Edition. Field testing was conducted with 498 students enrolled in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse group of 22 schools from five geographic regions across the U.S. Determinations of each school’s socioeconomic status were made using federal guidelines for categorizing low-, middle-, and high-SES schools.
     
    BAS Research Field Study Full Report
    This document is the full report of the Field Study of Reliability and Validity done on the Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Second Edition. Field testing was conducted with 498 students enrolled in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse group of 22 schools from five geographic regions across the U.S. Determinations of each school’s socioeconomic status were made using federal guidelines for categorizing low-, middle-, and high-SES schools.
     

    The Benchmark Assessment System is new but the F&P Text Level Gradient™ on which it is based has been developed over the last twenty years and used with high reliability to establish grade-level expectations. The F&P Text Level Gradient™, which was published in the 1990s, has been refined and developed over the years. You can now find over 50,000 books listed by level on fountasandpinnellleveledbooks.com. This gradient was used as a standard by the New Standards Project® (Resnick & Hampton, 2009). New Standards is a joint project of the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) and The National Center on Education and the Economy (Washington, D.C.). Heading a consortium of 26 U. S. states and six school districts, New Standards developed performance standards in English language arts and other areas.

    The F&P Text Level Gradient™ is a defined continuum of characteristics related to the level of support and challenge that a reader meets in a text. Terms such as easy and hard are always relative terms that refer to the individual reader's foundation of background knowledge. At each level (A to Z) texts are analyzed using ten characteristics: (1) genre/form; (2) text structure; (3) content; (4) themes and ideas; (5) language and literary features; (6) sentence complexity; (7) vocabulary; (8) word difficulty; (9) illustrations/graphics; and (10) book and print features.

    Texts are leveled using a highly reliable process in which teams of trained teachers, working independently and then through consensus, assign a level to books after analyzing them according to the ten factors. They are then analyzed by Fountas and Pinnell. The Benchmark Assessment books were actually created to precisely match the F&P Text Level Gradient™, and they were independently analyzed using the same process.

    Often information from readability formulas like the Spache and Flesch-Kincaid are used as part of the text analysis process; however, those formulas measure a more narrow range of factors such as sentence length and number of syllables in words. The leveling system on which this assessment is based takes into account a more complex range of text factors (for example, literary features and abstractness of theme). In fact, it is well known that the grade levels revealed by different formulae vary widely according to what is being analyzed.

    So, we would not expect an exact correlation between those factors and this assessment system. They do predict student performance on the kinds of texts and comprehension tasks students are expected to demonstrate in school. In a small evaluation in a city in Ohio data showed that if students proficient at levels M or N there was a strong predictability of proficiency on the Ohio Achievement Test in grade 3. More data are being collected.

    The Benchmark Assessment System is appropriate for use in RTI. It does not provide national norms or percentiles; it is not intended for national achievement testing. However, it is based on widely used grade-level criteria (see the website for detailed documents). It enables the classroom teacher and specialist teacher to engage in diagnosis of a variety of sub-skills. This complex and comprehensive assessment system is designed to measure progress in each of the subskills in a way that informs instruction. It is linked to a detailed continuum of observable behaviors to assess and teach for at every level (see The Literacy Continuum). Included in every BAS, this continuum offers a very specific bridge to instruction.

    Resnick, L. B., & Hampton, S. (2009). Reading and writing grade by grade. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


    Research Base

    Click here to review the Research Base.

    BAS Research Base
    This document details the research on which the Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2 and their components are based.

    Field Study of Reliability and Validity

    A formative evaluation of the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System was conducted to ensure that (1) the leveling of the texts is reliable and (2) the reading cores are valid and accurately identify each student's reading level. The purpose of the study was twofold. The first was to examine every book, at every level, for the reliability of its designated level within a broader literacy framework and across corresponding fiction and nonfiction genres, i.e., is the readability of the books consistent across the fiction and nonfiction domains? For example, are the level G fiction and nonfiction books not only typical level G books, but do corresponding fiction and nonfiction books at this level have the same degree of readability? The second purpose of the evaluation was to determine the correlation between the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System and other reading assessments, i.e., to what extent is the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System associated with other valid reading assessments?

    RESEARCH QUESTIONS
    In order to determine the reliability and validity of the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, the following three research questions guided the formative evaluation:

    Research Question 1

    • How reliable is the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System? That is, how consistent and stable is the information derived from the reading books?
    • Does each book of the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System consistently occupy the same position on the gradient of readability, based on multiple readings by age-appropriate students? That is, does each book, level A–Z represent a degree of increased difficulty that is consistent with other Fountas and Pinnell leveled texts.

    Research Question 2

    • To what extent are the gradients of difficulty for fiction and nonfiction books aligned within the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System? Do fiction and nonfiction books represent similar levels of difficulty within similar levels of reading?

    Research Question 3

    • To what extent is the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System associated with other established reading assessments?
      • What is the convergent validity between the System 1 and Reading Recovery® assessment texts?
      • What is the convergent validity between the System 2 and the Slosson Oral Reading Test—Revised (SORT-R3) and the Degrees of Reading Power® (DRP)?

    Click here to read the Executive Summary.

    Click here to read the Full Report.

    BAS 2e Executive Summary
    This document is the Executive Summary of the Field Study of Reliability and Validity done on the Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Second Edition. Field testing was conducted with 498 students enrolled in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse group of 22 schools from five geographic regions across the U.S. Determinations of each school’s socioeconomic status were made using federal guidelines for categorizing low-, middle-, and high-SES schools.
     
    BAS Research Field Study Full Report
    This document is the full report of the Field Study of Reliability and Validity done on the Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Second Edition. Field testing was conducted with 498 students enrolled in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse group of 22 schools from five geographic regions across the U.S. Determinations of each school’s socioeconomic status were made using federal guidelines for categorizing low-, middle-, and high-SES schools.
     
  • SEL

    Field Study of Validity and Reliability: Sistema de evaluación de la lectura (SEL)

    The Sistema de Evaluación de la Lectura (Sistema), Grados K–2, Niveles A–N is a formative assessment of reading in Spanish comprised of 28 high-quality original titles, or books, divided evenly between fiction and nonfiction. The Sistema measures decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills in kindergarten through third grade (mid-third grade). The set of books, recording forms, and other materials is an assessment tool for teachers, literacy specialists, and clinicians to use in determining students' developmental Spanish reading levels for the purpose of informing instruction and documenting reading progress. The Sistema is the Spanish counterpart to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System in English, published in 2007 (revised in 2010) to critical acclaim.

    A formative evaluation of the Sistema was conducted to ensure that (1) the leveling of the texts is reliable, and (2) the reading scores are valid and accurately identify each student's reading level. Click on the links below to review the results.

    Read Executive Summary »
    Read Full Report »

    BAS SEL Field Study Executive Summary
    This document is the Executive Summary of the Field Study of Reliability and Validity done on SEL. Field testing was conducted with 284 students enrolled in a socioeconomically, ethnically, and linguistically diverse group of seven schools from five geographic regions across the U.S. Determinations of each school’s socioeconomic status were made using federal guidelines for categorizing low-, middle-, and high SES schools. Students thus represented a cross-section of the major regions of the U.S., diverse socioeconomic levels and language backgrounds, and participated in programs for Spanish literacy instruction.
     

     
    BAS SEL FIeld Study Full Report
    This document is the full report of the Field Study of Reliability and Validity done on SEL. Field testing was conducted with 284 students enrolled in a socioeconomically, ethnically, and linguistically diverse group of seven schools from five geographic regions across the U.S. Determinations of each school’s socioeconomic status were made using federal guidelines for categorizing low-, middle-, and high SES schools. Students thus represented a cross-section of the major regions of the U.S., diverse socioeconomic levels and language backgrounds, and participated in programs for Spanish literacy instruction.
     

    Advisory Panel

    SEL Advisory Panel

  • Phonics

    Research Base: Phonics Lessons and Word Study

    Phonics Lessons and Word Studyare grounded in a wide base of academic research, including all the areas examined by The National Reading Panel, and reflect its recommendations for phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In addition, the lessons reflect practical, classroom-based research in how children learn, practices that have been reconfirmed by many teachers as they have field-tested Phonics Lessons and Word Study.

    Review Phonics Lessons: The Research Base »

    Phonics Lessons Research Base