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Reading grades studied

4 – 5

Intelligent Tutoring for the Structure Strategy (ITSS) – Elementary

Essa Rating
No. Studies
No. Students
Average Effect Size

Program Description

Intelligent Tutoring for the Structure Strategy (ITSS) is a web-based approach in which students are taught to read nonfiction texts by seeking signals within texts to guide their comprehension. For example, students would learn to look for words like “differ” and “in contrast” to know that a text is making comparisons. After identifying the text structure, students are scaffolded by the text structure patterns to select important ideas from the text to form a main idea and generate strategic hierarchical memory structures. These text structures can also be used to generate summaries, inferences, and elaborations, and to monitor comprehension. Students work with software in which animated “tutors” model and guide the learner, using graphic organizers, highlighted text and other devices. Students practice, take regular assessments, and receive feedback, proceeding at their own pace through the material.

Program Outcomes

ITSS has been compared to control groups in two studies involving fourth and fifth grade students from 45 rural and suburban schools across 3 states. One of the studies showed significant positive effects on a reading comprehension measure, qualifying ITSS for the ESSA “Strong” category. The mean effect size was +0.15. A study involving seventh graders also showed positive effects.

Staffing Requirements

System administrator – part-time

Professional Development/Training

The developers offer 2 days for teachers and school leaders followed by 4 in-school coaching sessions. In the research, the developers generated biweekly reports for the teachers showing student progress, contacted teachers when usage was below the recommended amount, and responded to technology and software challenges via phone or school visit to resolve the issues. Similar levels of support should be included if outcomes like those in the research are to be attained.