Reading Problems in Children Living in Urban Areas

United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) logo

United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Status and phase

Phase 3




Behavioral: Reading Instruction

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The first line of defense against reading disabilities is good classroom reading instruction. This study describes how characteristics of students, teachers, and instruction relate to academic achievement in inner-city kindergarten through Grade 4 classrooms.

Full description

Recent studies show that the incidence of reading disability can be significantly reduced by improving classroom instruction. Effective reading instruction in the primary grades includes explicit instruction in the alphabetic principle, reading for meaning, and opportunities to practice reading and writing. To learn more about the development of literacy skills in urban settings, students in 17 schools in Houston and Washington, D.C., were followed from kindergarten through Grade 4. Schools were selected based on similar demographics: predominantly African-American student population (95%) and high participation in the federal lunch program (85% to 100%). Each school was provided with grade-appropriate reading programs that focused on phonics and spelling. These programs included direct, integrated, classroom, and individual instruction modules. Approximately 1400 children and 114 teachers participated each year in this four-year study. The design was cross-sequential so that the majority of teachers in a grade participated for two years. All children participating in regular education were included in the study. Children below the 25th percentile on a standardized reading test were tutored individually by retired teachers, using materials from the classroom reading program. A variety of reading curricula were in place in the classrooms across these two sites. In order to help teachers implement these materials effectively, an ongoing research-based professional development model was employed, with curriculum consultants and coaches working with the teachers in the classroom. Researchers observed in each classroom four to six times during the year using on-the-minute recordings of content. Observers also completed ratings of teaching competencies. Teachers completed surveys of knowledge, experience, attitudes, and instructional strategies. A random selection of eight to ten students were assessed four times during the year for growth in literacy-related skills and once at the end of the year for achievement in reading, spelling, and writing.




5 to 8 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion Criteria

  • Student in participating school
  • Kindergarten through Grade 4

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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