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Promising Program Seal

Success for All

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A school-wide reform initiative in which instructional processes, curriculum enhancements, and improved support resources for families and staff work together to ensure that every student acquires adequate basic language skills in pre-K through 2nd grade and builds on these basic skills throughout the rest of elementary school.

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance
  • Preschool Communication/Language Development

Program Type

  • Academic Services
  • Mentoring - Tutoring
  • School - Environmental Strategies
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Teacher Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)


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


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • Social Programs That Work: Top Tier
  • What Works Clearinghouse: Meets Standards Without Reservations - Positive Effect

Program Information Contact

Success for All Foundation
200 W. Towsontown Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21204
800-548-4998, ext.2372

Program Developer/Owner

  • Bob Slavin and Nancy Madden
  • Success for All Foundation

Brief Description of the Program

Success for All (SFA) is primarily a literacy program, but is also a schoolwide reform initiative in which specific instructional processes, curriculum enhancements, and improved support resources for families and staff come together to ensure that every student acquires adequate basic language skills in pre-K through 2nd grade and that they build on these basic skills throughout the rest of elementary school. As such, the need for remediation and grade retention should drastically decline. The program has two major components: (a) student-level intervention which includes instruction based on the SFA philosophy and curriculum; and (b) school-level intervention which involves establishing a schoolwide "solutions" team (i.e., a team that addresses classroom management issues, seeks to increase parents’ participation, mobilizes integrated services to help families, and identifies particular problems such as homelessness), hiring a full-time program facilitator, and undertaking training and ongoing professional development for staff. Due to the comprehensive approach to reform, the significant and ongoing professional development across multiple years, and the focus on faculty support and buy-in from the outset, a vote of at least 80% of teachers in favor of program adoption is required.

See: Full Description


The study with the strongest design (Borman et al., 2007) found the following:

  • Compared to the control schools, Success for All (SFA) schools exhibited significantly higher literacy scores after three years of the school wide implementation. Effect sizes (Cohen's d) were .33, .22, and .21 for different literacy domains.
  • SFA appeared to work equally well for students who were exposed to the treatment for the full three years and for those who enrolled after the program was implemented.
  • Program effect sizes either remained stable or grew as the SFA students were exposed to the purposively sequenced SFA program.
  • In an interim report for results after two years of implementation (Borman et al., 2005), SFA schools exhibited significantly higher literacy scores on two of the four WMTR subdomains. Cohen’s d values ranged from 0.18 to 0.25.

Other findings include:

  • In a randomized controlled trial, program effects approached significance (p<.10) for word attack scores among Kindergarteners (Quint et al., 2013), attained significance for word attack among first and second graders (Quint et al., 2014; Quint et al., 2015), and trended toward significance (p= .08) for letter-word identification among first graders.
  • Other studies that suffered from design problems, but controlled for pretests, found very small (Cohen’s d= .11) to moderate (Cohen’s d = .6) effect sizes of the program on literacy achievement (Madden et al., 1993; Munoz and Dossett, 2004; Jones et al., 1997; Tracey et al., 2014).
  • One study on long-term effects (Borman and Hewes, 2002) found small to moderate effects through 8th grade on reading achievement (ES=.29), years of special education (ES=-.18), and never being retained in elementary school (ES=.27).
  • The evidence on whether full implementation produces significantly higher test scores than partial implementation was inconclusive (Nunnery et al., 1997).
  • Studies on bilingual versions of SFA indicate that the program can be just as effective as English-dominant SFA programs.
  • Using Multimedia as part of SFA shows promise.

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Studies included diverse samples. The strongest study consisted of 56% African American and 10% Hispanic students.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Family: Neglectful parenting
  • School: Poor academic performance, Repeated a grade
Protective Factors
  • Family: Parental involvement in education
  • School: Instructional Practice

See also: Success for All Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

Year 1 - Beginning Implementation:

Introductory Workshops

The principal, Success for All facilitator, and Solutions coordinator attend a five-day New Leaders Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants gain an understanding of the schoolwide structures, including data-based goal-setting, progress monitoring tools, and instructional processes, that form the SFA approach.

The Success for All Point Coach conducts a Leading for Success planning kickoff meeting with the school leadership team. This meeting is at the school site, in preparation for the program introduction workshops for the full staff.

Program introduction workshops at schools involving all staff members will present the schoolwide structures and instructional processes with an emphasis on preparing teachers to use the Success for All instructional tools and classroom materials. After a one-day whole-school overview, teachers meet in break-out groups, each guided by an SFA coach, for two days of introductions to KinderCorner, Reading Roots, and Reading Wings, as appropriate to each teacher’s role.

Staff responsible for increasing school attendance, enhancing parent involvement, managing student interventions, and creating community engagement are provided with three days of workshops over the course of the year to develop the planning and intervention teams in those areas.

Ongoing Coaching

Success for All Coaches visit schools throughout the year to provide coaching related to all aspects of SFA implementation. During onsite visits, usually about 16 days in the first year, coaches review progress relative to previously set goals and against previously selected progress metrics, and carry out observations of classrooms, discussions with teachers, reviews of student progress data with teachers and school leaders, reviews of implementation self-assessments, planning for achievement growth, and meetings with school staff responsible for schoolwide initiatives related to prevention and intervention (such as attendance, parent involvement, and student referrals). Coaches are also available by telephone and e-mail to check on progress, answer questions, and problem solve between visits. Coaches develop a strong relationship with the principal and facilitator, who guide the day to day implementation.

Year 2 and beyond:

After the initial year, all school staff participate in one to three days of workshops focused on whole school and classroom implementation of Success for All that are based on identified school needs at the beginning of each year. The Snapshot, an implementation quality assessment completed by the coach and school together, guides the selection of workshops and coaching support services. Onsite visits and telephone/email consultation continue, gradually decreasing as schools build capacity. In Year 2, schools average 12 days of coaching support. In Year 3, schools average 10 days. Schools in Year 4 and beyond usually receive between three and six days.

Training Certification Process

Training of SFA Coaches

Coaches who work with schools to help them implement Success for All receive extensive training and mentoring themselves. This starts with a week-long New Coaches Institute in Baltimore. Then coaches are assigned to area teams (groups of coaches assigned to a given region) and to mentors, who help them develop skills in initial training, ongoing coaching, telephone consultation, data management, and other essential skills. During at least their first year, new coaches only work jointly with their mentor. Ultimately, they need to demonstrate a series of increasingly sophisticated skills, and then they are certified to work as fully-qualified members of their regional teams.

After initial certification, additional professional development continues to be provided by SFA to help coaches develop specific component skills, and they are expected to continue over many years participating in annual experienced coaches institutes and building their skills.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The main study (Borman et al., 2007) was a clustered randomized trial of the effect of the Success for All (SFA) literacy program on early literacy outcomes. The sample included 41 high-poverty elementary schools (grades K-5) across 11 states that were randomly assigned to either receive SFA or to act as a control school. The final sample size was over 15,000 students in 35 schools. All students in both groups took a baseline assessment at the beginning of the year. The treatment schools implemented SFA in K-2nd grade and their literacy outcomes at the end of each year were compared with literacy outcomes from the corresponding cohort from the control group. The program collected data across 3 years (i.e., the final year of data collection was when the kindergarten cohort completed 2nd grade). Second year outcomes for this study were also presented in a separate report (Borman et al., 2005).

Another large study (Quint et al., 2013, 2014, 2015) used a randomized-controlled trial to estimate program impacts on kindergartners’ reading after the first, second, and third years of a multi-year evaluation project. The study recruited five school districts in four states for a total sample of 37 schools. The schools were randomly assigned to a condition, with 19 intervention schools and 18 control schools. Pretests were given in the fall of 2011 and kindergarten posttests were administered in the spring of 2012 while first grade posttests were administered in spring of 2013 and second grade posttests were administered in spring of 2014. The analysis sample for the 2013 study included 2,568 kindergartners who were present in the study schools in the fall and spring of the school year and who had valid spring test scores. In the 2014 study, outcomes were assessed among 2,251 students who remained enrolled in a school of the same type (treatment or control) and completed assessments in spring. At the end of the third year, the number of remaining students with data for all time points varied by test from 1,625 to 1,635.

Another randomized-controlled trial (Miller et al., 2017) was conducted in England to determine program effectiveness at scale. The researchers randomized schools into treatment and control conditions over two cohorts. Within each cohort, 39 and 14 schools were randomized respectively. This resulted in a treatment condition comprised of 874 students in 27 schools and a control condition of 893 students in 27 schools. Treatment students received the intervention over two school years, including the reception year and year 1 of primary, while the control condition experienced business as usual. Data on literacy outcomes were collected at the end of each of the two years of the program.

The majority of other SFA studies used a quasi-experimental design in which SFA schools were "matched" with other elementary schools in the school district based on percent free/reduced price lunch, race, and historical performance on standardized tests. The outcomes were often three subscales of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test (Word Attack, Word Identification, and Passage Comprehension). Mean scores for SFA schools were compared to mean scores for comparison schools to determine SFA efficacy.

Peer Implementation Sites


Borman, G., & Hewes, G. (2002) The long-term effects and cost-effectiveness of Success for All. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(4), 243-266.

Borman, G., Slavin, R., Cheung, A., Chamberlain, A., Madden, N. & Chambers, B. (2005). Success for All: First-year results from the national randomized field trial. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 27(1), 1-22.

Borman, G., Slavin, R., Cheung, A, Chamberlain, A., Madden, N., & Chambers, B. (2007). Final reading outcomes of the national randomized field trial of Success for All. American Education Research Journal, 44(3), 701-731.

Chambers, B., Cheung, A., Madden, N., Slaven, R., & Gifford, R. (2005). Achievement effects of embedded multimedia in a Success for All Reading Program. Technical Report. Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University.

Correnti, R. (2009). Examining CSR program effects on student achievement: Causal explanation through examination of implementation rates and student mobility. Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. Crystal City, VA.

Jones, E., Gottfredson, G., & Gottfredson, D. (1997). Success for some: An evaluation of a Success for All program. Evaluation Review, 21(6), 643-670.

Livingston, M. & Flaherty, J. (1997). Effects of Success for All on reading achievement in California schools. San Francisco, CA: Wested.

Madden, N., Slaven, R., Karwit, N., Dolan, L., & Wasik, B. (1993). Success for All: Longitudinal effects of a restructuring program for inner-city elementary schools. American Educational Research Journal, 30(1), 123-148.

Munoz, M. A., & Dossett, D. H. (2004) Educating students placed at risk: Evaluating the impact of Success for All in urban settings. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 9(3), 261-277.

Nunnery, J., Slavin, R., Madden, N., Ross, S., Smith L. J., Hunter, P., et al. (1997). Effects of full and partial implementation of Success for All on student reading achievement in English and Spanish. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago IL.

Quint, J. C., Balu, R., DeLaurentis, M., Rappaport, S., Smith, T.J., & Zhu, P. (2013). The Success For All model of school reform: Early findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) scale-up. New York: MDRC.

Quint, J. C., Balu, R., DeLaurentis, M., Rappaport, S., Smith, T.J., & Zhu, P. (2014). The Success For All model of school reform: Interim findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) scale-up. New York: MDRC.

Quint, J. C., Zhu, P., Balu, R., Rappaport, S., & DeLaurentis, M. (2015). Scaling up the Success for all model of school reform. New York: MDRC.

Slavin, R. E., and Madden, N. A. (1998). Success for All/exito para todos: Effects on the reading achievement of students acquiring English. Report No. 19, Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk.