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Gil Noam from Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and Harvard Graduate School of Education describes an evaluation to discover how well the New 3Rs, a proven school-based reading and risk prevention intervention, works in after school contexts.

The New 3Rs — Reading, Resilience, and Relationships in Afterschool Programs study evaluates the efficacy of a proven, school-based reading intervention in a new, after school context, both alone and with an innovative risk prevention program. The New 3Rs is a two-year research intervention directed by Gil Noam with Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University and Tami Katzir of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and managed by Sally Wilson. The intervention is funded through the Interagency Education Research Initiative (a collaborative effort sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, with additional support from the Haan Foundation. The study poses the following three broad questions:

  1. Can early elementary school children with reading difficulties make significant gains in reading skills, particularly fluency and comprehension, in an after school intervention that is exciting and fun?
  2. Do combined emphases on structured and supportive relationships, resiliency, and high quality reading remediation result in both academic and social outcomes? (This question addresses concerns about the perceived schism between academic foci in schools and the more social development orientation of many after school programs.)
  3. What academic and social characteristics best predict which students will respond well—or poorly—to intensive instructional interventions in after school settings?

Teachers at participating schools will recommend struggling readers in the second and third grades. In the first year of the two-year study the participating schools will be the Beebe and Forestdale Schools in Malden, Massachusetts; Moon Mountain School in Phoenix, Arizona; and Galveston Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona. In the second year, Boston elementary schools will be added.

Two hundred seventy children will take part in the study. Based on an initial screening, children are selected and then randomly assigned to one of three groups: a group receiving a reading fluency and comprehension program, Retrieval, Automaticity, Vocabulary Enrichment, and Orthography (RAVE-O); a group receiving RAVE-O and a social and academic support program, Rally for Kids; and a control group. Children in the RAVE-O group will receive 1 hour of reading instruction 3 times per week and participate in their regular after school program outside of these 3 hours. Children in the RAVE-O and Rally for Kids group will receive 1 hour of RAVE-O 3 times per week and approximately 1 hour of Rally for Kids 3 times per week. Children in the control group will participate in their regular after school program only.

All three groups will be subjected to the same testing and evaluation procedures. This random assignment design was chosen to explore whether the after school hours can produce significant results while maintaining the goals of positive relationships and enjoyment in learning.

In collaboration with school staff, the investigators will select, train, and supervise teachers (to provide the RAVE-O intervention) and social workers (to serve as Rally for Kids prevention practitioners). The study will also evaluate whether after school programs can serve as an experimental space for teachers to bring their learning back into their classrooms. Preliminary results from this study will be available in fall 2005 and will be posted on the Program in Afterschool Education and Research website at

Gil G. Noam
Associate Professor
Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Program in Afterschool Education and Research
8 Story Street, 3rd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138

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