A Drop in the Bucket: Randomized Controlled Trials Testing Reading and Math Interventions


Requests for reprint should be sent to Pamela M. Seethaler, Department of Special Education, Box 328, Peabody College, Nashville, TN 37203. Electronic inquiries may be sent to pamela.m.seethaler@vanderbilt.edu.


The purpose of this study was to determine the proportion of empirical studies published in the last 5 years in a sample of special education peer-reviewed journals that (1) assessed the effects of reading and math interventions with group designs and (2) used random assignment to treatment conditions to test those interventions. A hand search of articles from the Journal of Special Education, Exceptional Children, Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, the Journal of Learning Disabilities, and School Psychology Review yielded 806 relevant articles, of which 5.46 percent tested a reading or math intervention using a group design and 4.22 percent used random assignment. These findings indicate that randomized experimental designs, which offer the highest level of evidence of an intervention's efficacy, are underrepresented in the literature, at least in the area of reading and math interventions.