Current Research

Ms. Pelzmann’s methods have been the subject of a research study in Tampa, Florida. Cathy collaborated with Dr. Linda Raffaele-Mendez in the School Psychology department at the University of South Florida. Together they designed a study that was implemented in a Hillsborough County school. The study, Reading in Motion, provided an effective intervention for struggling readers.

The data from this study were presented at two prestigious conferences.

  • “Reading in Motion: A Games and Movement-Based Intervention to Assist Struggling Young Readers,” Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association; Orlando, FL: August 2012
  • “Reading in Motion: A New Tier 2 Intervention for Struggling Early Readers,” Florida Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, November 2012

Ms. Pelzmann and Dr. Raffaele-Mendez have published an article that documents the study.  It is found in Reading and Writing Quarterly (published online 12/15/2015).

Link to Complete Article

Reading continues to be an area of concern for students in the U.S. According to recent research, in 4th grade, when 100% of students are expected to have achieved basic reading levels, only 63% reach this criterion. The National Reading Panel identified five necessary skills for reading achievement: Phonics (alphabetics), phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Reading in Motion aimed to build each of these skills using a school-based small group intervention that combined (1) a basal reader (SRA Reading Mastery); (2) audio recordings; (3) strategies to increase motivation to read (i.e., games, tangible rewards); and (4) parent involvement in reading at home. Each of these components in isolation has previous empirical support.

SRA Reading Mastery has a small evidence base for improving reading/language skills and spelling.
Listening to audio recordings in pairs before engaging in a reading activity has been shown to increase fluency and comprehension.
Students respond differently to interventions depending on their level of motivation. Motivation can be increased through the incorporation of reading games, with particular gains in vocabulary and phonics.
Students who receive coordinated reading instruction at home and school perform better than those who only receive training in school.

Reading in Motion combined these 4 elements to provide a comprehensive intervention designed to increase reading skills while also engaging students who had previously experienced frustration and failure.


Eleven 1st and 2nd grade students (7 boys, 4 girls) attending a charter school in central Florida were identified by their teachers as having below grade level reading skills. One male student was excluded due to intensive one-on-one intervention needs, resulting in a final sample of 10.


1st graders and 2nd graders met as separate groups with a reading specialist for approximately 35 minutes four times a week for four months (February-May).
Each group worked in pairs using electronic recording devices, listening to and reading aloud a prepared lesson that targeted phonics and reading fluency.
The basal reader SRA Reading Mastery was used at home by parents with their children. Each child read aloud as the parent made corrections and recorded the errors to send to the reading specialist. These words were selected for games.

Games were usually played at the end of the lesson; games focused on errors made during the home lesson as well as sight words and phonics skills that were targeted in the auditory component of the intervention.
Tangible reinforcers (e.g., M&Ms) were used to maintain on-task behavior.

Paired samples t-tests revealed significant pre-post test differences on the WJ-III RMT in sight word reading (Word Identification; t = 2.29, p=.048), phonics (Word Attack; t=2.68, p=.025), fluency (Oral Reading Fluency; t=2.83, p=.020).


Fig. 1. Woodcock-Johnson data.

Phonological awareness results approached significance (t= 2.143; p=.064). CBM data collected between January and March (Word Reading Fluency) and April and May (Passage Reading Fluency) indicated progress toward the population mean (50th percentile) for most students in the study.


Fig. 2. Easy CBM Passage Reading Growth of a First Grader (April to May)

Fig. 3. Easy CBM Passage Reading Growth of a Second Grader (April to May)

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