Archived Information

Tried and True: September 1997--The information in this publication was current as of September 1997, and has not been updated since. Some services described in the publication may no longer be available.
[Instructional Content and Practice]

Success for All and Exito Para Todos

An Early Elementary School Program for At-Risk Youth

Developed and tested by Johns Hopkins University Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR); adapted for students with limited English proficiency by WestEd

What is the idea behind Success for All?

Success for All is based on the premise that, given the right support, every child can learn. A schoolwide restructuring program for pre-K through grades five or six, Success for All and Exito Para Todos focus first and foremost on reading, with the aim being to ensure that virtually every student reads at or above grade level by the end of the third grade. The focus is on reading, explains one program staffer, because when children learn to read, they can spend the rest of their lives reading to learn.

Participating schools reorganize and coordinate all their resources to ensure that every child succeeds. Curriculum, classroom organization, and management and assessment are all focused to provide excellent early learning. In addition, the program stresses early intervention strategies such as one-to-one tutoring for students (especially first graders) who experience difficulty with reading, and working with parents and social agencies to address problems that interfere with students' success. Staff members learn to be relentless; their credo is never give up--try everything.

In that vein, WestEd has been adapting Success for All to more effectively serve students with limited English proficiency (Exito Para Todos). In tailoring the program to schools with large minority language populations, WestEd has included, for example, the use of bilingual reading materials, staff development sessions for bilingual education teachers and tutors, and training sessions for school staff working with family support teams.

What does research say about how these ideas can help teaching and learning?

Research confirms the value of this comprehensive approach with its carefully targeted components. Longitudinal studies, using matched control students in matched schools, indicate that Success for All improves achievement. Success for All students in five Baltimore schools had significantly higher reading achievement compared with matched controls; they surpassed control students by 3 months in first grade and by a full year in fifth grade in average grade equivalents. Students who scored in the lowest 25 percent on the pretest--those considered most at risk--showed the most improvement.

Research has also found that compared to other Chapter 1 (Title I) schoolwide projects, Success for All reduces retention and assignments to special education while increasing attendance. Reduction in retention is an element of the program rather than an outcome; however, passing marginal students while providing them with additional academic support does seem to have promoted greater gains than were engendered by retaining the control students.

How was this program tested?

A common design has been used in all Success for All evaluations. Every Success for All school involved in a formal evaluation is matched with a control school that is similar in poverty level, ethnicity, and other factors. Children in the Success for All schools are then matched either on district-administered standardized test scores given in kindergarten or scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test given by the project in the fall of kindergarten or first grade. The measures used in the evaluations were the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, the Durrell Analysis of Reading Difficulty, and the Gray Oral Reading Test.

Evaluations in other Success for All schools, including those in California using Exito Para Todos, reiterate the Baltimore findings. First graders in Spanish bilingual programs scored at grade level and more than 6 months ahead of comparison students. Again, the benefits were greatest for students in the lowest 25 percent of their classes. Students with various language backgrounds who participated in a Success for All English-as-a-second-language program also outperformed their comparison counterparts.

What communities and states are using this program?

As of September 1996, Success for All and Exito Para Todos were being implemented in over 450 elementary schools in 90 school districts in 31 states. Among the many and varied Success for All sites are schools located in Montgomery, Alabama; Dade County, Florida; Rockford, Illinois; Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Flint, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; Houston, Texas; and Charleston, West Virginia.

As a Success for All regional training center, WestEd provides support to schools in the Southwest. During the 1995-96 school year, it provided training for 17 California elementary schools, 8 schools in Arizona, and, in cooperation with Johns Hopkins University, 7 schools in a special project in Houston, Texas. An additional 26 schools in those states and Utah began implementation with WestEd support in 1996-97.

What's involved in using these programs in my school and community?

The Success for All programs combine a research-based preschool and kindergarten program; a beginning reading program that integrates effective phonics instruction with meaningful context through the use of Shared Stories, phonetically regular mini-books that students read with the teacher; homogeneous reading groups during a daily 90-minute reading period; one-on-one tutoring; cooperative learning approaches to intermediate reading; frequent student assessment to ensure progress; family support services to increase parent involvement; and a campus-based project facilitator to coordinate the many program elements and to provide continuing on-site training and technical assistance.

A central element is the one-on-one tutoring for students having difficulty reading, especially in the early grades. Ideally, this tutoring is provided by certified teachers, but some schools are using teacher aides. Reading materials for Success for All schools are provided by the program developer. Every Child, Every School: Success for All, available from Corwin Press, describes both the Program and research outcomes.

Implementing Success for All requires awareness training, a vote for implementation by 80 percent of the staff, on-site staff development, follow-up site visits, technical assistance, and an annual conference for new and experienced sites.

In some localities, schools have been able to cover the cost of the additional staff and resources needed to implement Success for All by redirecting Title I, Title II, Title VI, and other categorical funds from pull-out and supplementary programs.

Costs associated with implementing this program vary, depending on the components of the program being used.


Meg Livingston, Director
Success for All Regional Training Center
4665 Lampson Avenue
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Phone: (310) 985-9175
Fax: (310) 985-9635

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