The authors of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Irene Fountas and
Gay Su Pinnell, are committed to the important role of research in the development and ongoing evaluation of LLI.

Independent Gold Standard Study

LLI Efficacy Study 2009-2010–rural and suburban schools

LLI Efficacy StudyThe LLI Efficacy Study was conducted by an independent research group, the Center for Research in Education Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis. This scientific study looked at the impact of LLI instruction on struggling readers in two locations: the rural Tifton County Schools in GA and the suburban Enlarged School District of Middletown, NY. The LLI Efficacy study employed a randomized controlled trial, mixed-methods design and included both quantitative and qualitative data. Students were randomly selected for the treatment or control groups. A matched-pair design was used to ensure equivalency between treatment and control groups, and pre-post comparisons of student achievement in literacy were conducted. In addition, the study looked at the fidelity of LLI implementation. It included both independent observations and feedback from teachers and independent on-site researchers. These included two measures of reading achievement for evaluating students' progress in literacy; one observational tool for assessing teachers' LLI instructional practices; and two teacher surveys and focus groups to obtain teachers' and on-site researchers' feedback on LLI .

Review the LLI Efficacy Study »
Read the Executive Summary of this study »

LLI Efficacy Study 2011-2012–urban schools

LLI Efficacy StudyAn additional independent LLI Efficacy Study was conducted by the Center for Research in Education Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis examining the efficacy of LLI instruction on struggling readers in urban districts in Denver, Colorado. A total of 320 K-2 students participated in this mixed-methods randomized controlled trial (RCT) that included both quantitative and qualitative data. The students were matched demographically and randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. There were four key purposes of this study: (1) to determine the efficacy of the Leveled Literacy Intervention system (LLI) in increasing literacy achievement for urban K-2 students and associated student subgroups; (2) to examine LLI program implementation fidelity in urban settings; (3) to determine perceptions of the LLI system according to relevant stakeholders; and (4) to corroborate the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System with established literacy assessments (i.e., the Developmental Reading Assessment, 2nd Edition [DRA2] and the STAR Early Literacy Assessment).

Review the LLI Efficacy 2011-2012 Denver Study »
Read the Executive Summary of this study »

Heinemann LLI Research and Data Collection Project


The Heinemann LLI Data Collection Project was conducted by Liz Ward, Ph.D., a researcher working for Heinemann under the direction of Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. This study was descriptive and described reading gains for students enrolled in the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) program at 34 sites around the United States and Canada. Individual data forms reporting on student demographics, teacher experience, implementation parameters, and performance data for LLI students were completed by LLI teachers, collected at the district level, and sent to the researcher conducting the study. Each student's reading progress was determined by looking at their pre- and post- LLI instructional reading levels (ranging from Pre-A to Z) which were based on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. The instructional reading levels were obtained through the teachers' reports of their students' instructional reading levels which were determined by administration of the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System or Reading Records or by the conversion to F&P levels of the teacher's reports of their students' score on other assessments including the DRA or DRA2, the Reading Recovery Observation Survey with Running Records, the Rigby Benchmark, and other reading assessments. The data were collected and reported for LLI students only. No control group was identified and assessed and therefore, the LLI student growth was compared to Fountas and Pinnell grade level criteria for satisfactory progress.

Read the Executive Summary of this project here »

Reading Progress for Special Education LLI students
Heinemann's LLI Data Collection Project (2009-2010) included 824 kindergarten through fifth-grade students with an IEP for Reading or other categories (SPED). With Leveled Literacy Intervention these students made an average of seven and a half months of progress in a little more than four and a half months. Read a summary of these results here.

Reading Progress for English Language Learner LLI students
Out of the total LLI student sample from Heinemann's LLI Data Collection Project (2009ˆ2010), 925 of the kindergarten through fifth-grade students were reported to be English Language Learners (ELL). Learn how the reading progress of these English Language Learners accelerated in LLI in the summary report.

Heinemann LLI Reports 2009–2010


Read about the continuing use of LLI in the second report documenting Heinemann's own Research and Data Collection Project. This report analyzes data collected during 2010-2011 school year. Over 2,600 students from 114 schools from 11 states participated in this study. Results show on average a time equivalent gain in reading level of about 9 months after just 4.5 months of LLI instruction.

Read the Executive Summary of this project here »

Research Base

Leveled Literacy Intervention, Grades K–2 (Levels A–N)
The development of LLI was driven by what prior research has established about how children learn to read, and what works best with struggling readers. Please refer to the research base for more information regarding the background research that provided the foundation for the development of this intervention system.

Leveled Literacy Intervention, Grades 3–12 (Levels L–Z)
In this summary, Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell review the research base for the Red, Gold, Purple and Teal systems of Leveled Literacy Intervention, which is designed to lift the literacy achievement of students who are falling below grade level expectations in reading. The 15 principles on which the LLI Red, Gold, Purple and Teal systems are based are discussed, along with a list of supporting research. The lesson framework for the extended systems of LLI rests on these principles.

Research connected with the Development of LLI

During the development of LLI, a field study was conducted at sites around the United States to assess the LLI framework. Please refer to the field study for more information about the field study and the research connected with the development of LLI.

Additionally, the student data from three of the sites that participated in the field study (Newark OH, Boston MA and Manchester NH) was analyzed for a pilot research project that examined student progress. Please refer to the pilot study, for the results from this study.