What is the impact of the Lucy Calkins Units of Study Reading and Writing Programs on student achievement in elementary-school reading/language arts?
The Lucy Calkins Units of Study Program is a widely-used program that consists of materials and methods for teaching reading and writing in Grades K–8. A metro-Atlanta school district (“the district”) has used the Lucy Calkins Program for many years in the elementary grades with the timing and extent of adoption at the discretion of individual school leaders. In this report, Béla Figge and Tim R. Sass provide evidence on the impact of the Lucy Calkins Program on student achievement in reading/language arts relative to alternative programs in use. We analyze student test scores on summative (Milestones) assessments in Grades 3–5 from school year (SY) 2012–13 to SY 2018–19 and scores on nationally-normed formative assessments in Grades K–3 over the period SY 2017-18 to SY 2018-19. We compare student test scores in a school and grade that had implemented the Lucy Calkins Program to students with similar characteristics and prior-year scores from the same school in different grades and years who were not exposed to the program.
The estimated average impacts of the Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Programs on annual student achievement gains in Grades 4 and 5 are positive but small. In Grades 1–3, the use of the Reading Program is estimated to have a small, negative effect on student achievement. In neither set of grades can we confidently rule out that the effect is zero. We cannot say with confidence that the impacts differ significantly across implementation levels. Impacts of the Reading Program in Grades 4 and 5 appear to be higher for students experiencing poverty than for students from more affluent families and higher for English language learners than for students proficient in English.
To read more, please download the policy brief and report below.