Preventing School Dropout With Secondary Students: The Implementation of an Individualized Reading Intervention and Dropout Prevention Intervention


This project determines the effects of an individualized reading intervention and a dropout prevention intervention separately and in combination with struggling adolescent readers who have low school engagement and are therefore at risk for school dropout.


​Research is ongoing.

Project Design


​This project conducts a randomized controlled trial study to determine the efficacy of two fully developed, feasible interventions that have not been evaluated with the target populations (students with low literacy and at risk for dropout): (a) an intensive, individualized reading intervention, Reading Interventions for Adolescents (RIA), and (b) a dropout prevention program, Check & Connect (C&C; Sinclair, Christenson, Evelo, & Hurley, 1998; Sinclair, Christenson, & Thurlow, 2005). The project evaluates the efficacy of the interventions separately and combined. Therefore, there are three treatment conditions and one typical school practice comparison condition. The goal is to inform the field of the following:

  1. The risk criteria used for identifying students at risk for dropout, specifically those with reading difficulties
  2. Effective practices for reducing dropout rates
  3. The effects of dropout prevention and individualized school engagement interventions on populations at high risk for dropout
  4. The effects of a reading intervention alone and a reading intervention in combination with a dropout prevention intervention


​Study participants were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Reading risk: Students must have failed their seventh-grade Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS; Texas Education Agency, 2004) and the most recent TAKS benchmark in eighth grade.
  • Dropout risk: Students must have had high rates of absenteeism and disciplinary infractions, excessive tardies, and poor academic performance.

Students selected for the study were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: RIA only, RIA and C&C, C&C only, or comparison (typical school practice).

RIA incorporates explicit, individualized instruction in effective components of a scientifically based reading intervention, with special emphasis in improving access to social studies and science text. C&C is a fully developed and widely used model of sustained intervention to enhance and maintain students’ engagement with school. Trained monitors work with students daily to provide individualized and timely support to increase motivation and engagement.

Students will remain in their assigned condition for the duration of the intervention, 2010–2012, and all students will participate in posttesting during follow-up years, 2012–2014.

The project collects two types of quantitative assessment data: pretest and posttest assessments and daily progress-monitoring data that the dropout monitor compiles. Pretest and posttest assessments and progress-monitoring measures will occur throughout each of the 2 years of intervention. Only posttesting will occur during the 2 years of follow-up.


​Approximately 400 ninth-grade students who are at risk for dropping out and at risk for reading difficulties