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El camino al éxito Research

el camino

History of El camino al éxito

El camino al éxito (El camino) was developed at Metzger Elementary in Tigard, Oregon, in the fall of 2006 for students not making good progress with their core reading program. Three years earlier, Metzger had begun a Spanish literacy program for native-Spanish speakers; but the need for an intervention quickly became apparent.

Starting in fall 2006, most kindergarten students at Metzger received the 30-minute El camino intervention. In fall 2012, Metzger began a duel language immersion program in which both native-Spanish and native- English speakers were taught to read in Spanish. Most of these students also received the intervention.

Most students who have participated in the El camino program have met benchmark reading levels at the end of kindergarten, as assessed by the IDEL measures developed by the University of Oregon. They have acquired good decoding skills and are ready to enter first grade reading at grade level.

Effectiveness of El camino

The effectiveness of El camino was evaluated using the IDEL assessment developed by the University of Oregon. Specifically, the measure Fluidez en las palabras sin sentido (FPS) was used, which measures the number of sounds a student can read in one minute. The test is administered in January and June during the kindergarten year. Scores of the following students were evaluated:

  • 66 students who were in Spanish literacy before El camino was implemented (from fall 2003 to spring 2006).
  • 106 students who were in Spanish literacy and receiving instruction in El camino (from fall 2006 to spring 2012).
  • 56 students who were in the dual language immersion program and receiving instruction in El camino (from fall 2012 to spring 2014).

University of Oregon - IDEL
Assessment Kindergarten (End-of-Year Test)
Fluidez en las palabras sin sentido

Before recieving instruction in El camino

After recieving instruction in El camino

Low Risk - Reading Above Benchmark Level (35 or more sounds)

Some Risk - Reading Problems (between 25 and 34 sounds)

At Risk - Reading Problems (24 sounds or less)

Before using El camino, 89% of students were “At Risk” or at “Some Risk” for future language and reading problems.

After implementing El camino, only 7% of the students were “At Risk” or at “Some Risk.”

Two separate assessments were made. In the first assessment, the testing results collected at the end of each year were used to compare students who did not receive instruction in El camino (from fall 2003 to spring 2006) to students who received instruction (from fall 2006 to spring 2014). The graph shows the percentage of students each year who met the benchmark level (shown in green) and the percentages that were at risk for future reading problems (shown in red or yellow).

In the second assessment, the results were evaluated for only students who received instruction in El camino. For this group (158 kindergarten students), the results of the scores from winter 2007 to spring 2014 are tabulated to the right. The winter test scores were compared to the spring test scores by calculating Cohen’s d. Based on the winter scores (benchmark is 20 sounds in a minute), the students have been placed into 3 groups:

  • 16 “at risk” students;
  • 37 “some risk” students; and
  • 105 “low risk” students.

IDEL FPS Scores Winter 2007–Spring 2014

N Winter Score
Spring Score
Actual Gain Cohen's d
Total Kindergarten 158 25.83 67.69 41.86 1.7
At Risk 16 5.81 56.00 50.19 3.0
Some Risk 37 15.46 61.54 46.08 2.1
Low Risk 105 32.53 71.64 39.11 1.6
N = population size, M = mean

For each of these groups, the table above shows the actual gain each group made in the number of sounds read between the winter and spring test, and the “effect size” of each group, calculated using Cohen’s d.

Cohen’s d is typically used in education, psychology, and medical studies to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention or treatment. It can range from approximately -3 to +3. Generally, a Cohen’s d of 0.2 is considered small, 0.5 is medium, and 0.8 is large. The Cohen’s d calculated from the test data (ranging from 1.6 for the “low risk” group to 3.0 for the “at risk” group) were much larger than these numbers and show that the intervention was extremely effective.

Kindergarten Fluidez en las palabras sin sentido (FPS)
2006-07 School Year to 2013-14 School Year
Comparison of Winter Scores to Spring Scores

This graph shows the gains each group made between the winter testing and the spring testing. For the winter testing results, the blue bars on the graph show that for all 158 kindergarten students, the mean score of 25.83 was above the benchmark score of 20 (blue line). However, the mean for both the group of 16 “at risk” students and the group of 37 “some risk” students were below the winter benchmark score of 20 (blue line).

For the spring testing, the green bars on the graph show that the mean of all students, as well as for each subgroup of students, were well above the spring benchmark score of 35 (green line). This assessment demonstrates that the intervention has been very successful at improving basic literacy skills as evaluated using the IDEL FPS measure.


At the beginning of the year, the phonological awareness and phonics tasks include:

Identifying the target sound at the beginning of word


Learning the name and the sound of each letter

Learning to blend and segment words into syllables


Learning to read a page of letters

Completing daily worksheets

Playing games designed to reinforce the skills learned that day

After the students have learned some basic sounds, the daily lessons include the tasks listed above as well as the following phonological awareness and alphabetic principle tasks:

Segmenting syllables into sounds and blending sounds into syllables

Combining letters to form syllables


As the year progresses, the students complete additional alphabetic principle tasks that include:

Learning to read syllables


Learning to read syllables


Toward the end of the year, the students:

Learn to read words, including words with closed syllables and diphthongs
Learn to read short sentences using the words they have already learned