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Open Court Reading

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A school-based program designed to improve reading ability among elementary school students by providing teachers with training, professional development, and a research-based curriculum.

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance

Program Type

  • Academic Services
  • School - Individual Strategies

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)


  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • What Works Clearinghouse: Meets Standards Without Reservations - Positive Effect

Program Information Contact

Delonda Morton
McGraw-Hill Education
National Director for Professional Development
8787 Orion Place
Columbus, OH 43240
(815) 258-1010

For McGraw-Hill Education Learning Specialist:

Program Developer/Owner

  • McGraw-Hill Education

Brief Description of the Program

Open Court Reading (OCR) is a phonic-based K-3 curriculum. It includes age-appropriate materials for students, training in pedagogy for teachers, and workshops for professional development of teachers. The OCR curriculum includes three components: Foundational Skills, Reading and Responding, and Language Arts.

See: Full Description


Borman et al. (2008) found that compared to the control group, students in the treatment classrooms had significant improvements in:

  • Reading composite score
  • Reading vocabulary
  • Reading comprehension

Skindrud and Gersten (2006) found that 2nd grade students in Open Court Reading schools showed significantly greater improvement than students in Success for All schools on:

  • Reading test scores
  • Language test scores

Vaden-Kiernan et al. (2018) reported no significant positive program effects.

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Vaden-Kiernan et al. (2018) found that Hispanic students in the treatment group improved standardized reading scores significantly more than Hispanic students in the control group. However, there were significant, negative subgroup impacts for female, non-free and reduced price lunch, and non-English language learner students.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • School: Poor academic performance*

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

Training and Technical Assistance

Initial Teacher Training

McGraw-Hill Education recommends initial implementation training for each teacher. The purpose of this one day training will cover program materials, convey the structure and management of Open Court Reading, and outline the most effective teaching strategies for the curriculum.

The initial one-day training is negotiated with the product order but it could be up to $2500.

Onsite Support

Following the initial training, McGraw-Hill Education can provide support to schools through site visits designed to ensure Open Court Reading is implemented effectively. Curriculum specialists can provide classroom demonstrations for individuals or groups of teachers. These are often followed by debriefing sessions to discuss the content, teaching techniques, and observations. This partnership between teacher and curriculum specialists ensures the most effective teaching strategies are achieved for the students. Grade level and faculty meetings are used to address specific content needs of the staff.

Once McGraw-Hill Education receives information on the grades purchased and number of participants we will work with your District to determine the number of in-kind professional development days. At any time during the adoption if your District feels there is an identified need for additional support, McGraw-Hill Education will provide additional support at the cost of $2,500/day/curriculum specialist.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Borman et al. (2008) conducted a multisite, cluster-randomized controlled trial in which 57 elementary school classrooms, with a total of 1,099 children, from grades 1 through 5 were randomly assigned to a treatment or control condition. The treatment condition included delivery of the Open Court Reading materials and professional development; the control condition asked teachers to continue with instruction as they had been practicing previously. The study administered a pretest in fall of the 2006-2007 school year and the posttest in the spring of that year, both of which were anonymous.

Skindrud and Gersten (2006) conducted a quasi-experimental, matched group study of 936 second and third graders in 12 schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District. The study selected eight schools implementing the Open Court Reading curriculum that matched four schools implementing Success for All on demographic characteristics and reading scores. The study administered a pretest and posttests at the end of the subsequent two school years.

Vaden-Kiernan et al. (2018) conducted a multisite cluster randomized trial in 7 school districts across the U.S. A total of 49 elementary schools were randomized within each district to the intervention group (n=25) or a control group (n=24) using the standard reading curriculum. The period of observation was two years, with four classrooms (two in each age cohort) in each school randomly assessed on reading ability in the spring.


Borman, G. D., Dowling, N. M. & Schneck, C. (2008). A multisite cluster randomized field trial of Open Court Reading. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30, 389-407.

Skindrud, K. & Gersten, R. (2006). An evaluation of two contrasting approaches for improving reading achievement in a large urban district. The Elementary School Journal, 106, 389-408.