Upper-Elementary Reading Intervention


Vanderbilt University is partnering with MCPER to test the efficacy of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Intermediate in the third and fourth grades. Researchers will conduct a randomized control trial to examine: (a) the efficacy of LLI Intermediate for third-grade students with reading difficulties or disabilities relative to a business-as-usual comparison group, (b) the efficacy of an intensive implementation of LLI Intermediate over 2 years (third and fourth grades), (c) the short- and long-term outcomes to determine whether the effects are educationally meaningful to students, and (d) the moderators of student responses to intervention.

The multicomponent LLI Intermediate reading intervention used in this study is in wide use, but it has never been rigorously evaluated at the third- and fourth-grade levels. LLI Intermediate is a supplemental intervention for students with reading difficulties or disabilities. The lessons include word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The intervention is provided daily for 45-minute sessions in small groups of four students.

Note: MCPER does not endorse the use of this program or any other programs.


Outcomes will include information about the efficacy of LLI Intermediate. The project will also result in a final data set, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders, such as practitioners and policymakers.

Research is ongoing.

Project Design


A significant number of students struggle to successfully read and understand grade-level text in the third grade and beyond. However, there is very limited information on intensive implementations of reading intervention that may be needed for students with or at risk for reading disabilities at the upper-elementary level. The study will provide information on the effectiveness of an intervention already in use or under consideration, as well as information on the factors affecting its effectiveness. In addition, the findings will add to the limited research base on intensive interventions for intermediate grade students who have significant reading difficulties or disabilities.


Students will be randomized to receive LLI Intermediate or business-as-usual comparison in small groups of four students daily in 45-minute sessions for 24 weeks (120 sessions total). Following intervention, student outcomes will be measured. Third-grade students participating in the intervention will continue in their randomly assigned condition (LLI Intermediate or comparison) for a 2nd year in the fourth grade. Following the 2 years of intervention implementation (end of fourth grade), student outcomes will be measured. Researchers will examine students’ initial reading achievement as a moderator of response to the intervention. In addition, researchers will measure classroom teacher perceptions of behavior and attention to determine whether those categories moderate student response to the intensive intervention provided over 2 years. Researchers will also examine implementation outcomes as a mediator of treatment effects.


The study will include successive cohorts of 200 third-grade students with reading difficulties or disabilities, totaling 400 students over 2 years.