Research Base

Success for All was initiated in the 1980s as a partnership between the Baltimore City School System and Johns Hopkins University. JHU researchers Robert Slavin, Nancy Karweit, and Nancy Madden had recently completed a review of the practices that are effective in preventing early school failure. [1]

They were challenged by a Baltimore City Public School board member to apply this knowledge in schools to ensure students’ success. The first school began to use the resulting program, Success for All, in 1987. Key research-based elements of the SFA model include:

  • using cooperative learning to engage and motivate students, [2]
  • regrouping for reading instruction to minimize time spent on low impact seatwork, [3]
  • frequent assessment and feedback in the classroom for goal setting and celebration of progress, [4]
  • schoolwide quarterly assessments to accelerate students making rapid progress and to identify students who need more support,
  • one-to-one tutoring to catch students up quickly before they fall too far behind, [5]
  • engaging and supporting families so students come to school ready to learn, [6]

SFAF has continued to use new research findings to refine and continuously improve the program. Examples include:

  • incorporation of direct instruction in reading strategies, [7]
  • enhanced coaching strategies to improve the quality of implementation, [8]
  • introduction of multimedia tools into phonics instruction, [9]
  • instruction in conflict-resolution strategies schoolwide, [10] and
  • development of leadership academies to enhance school guidance skills in the context of Success for All. [11]

Research continues.

  • Under a federally funded grant, Success for All Foundation is working with researchers at the University of Michigan to incorporate social-emotional and cognitive regulation tools into instructional processes to enhance learning.
  • A grant from the University of York in the United Kingdom is funding research on the incorporation of interactive whiteboard technology into the Success for All model.


  1. Slavin, R. E., Karweit, N. L., & Madden, N. A. (1989) (Eds.). Effective programs for students at risk. Boston:
    Allyn & Bacon.
  2. Slavin, R. E. (1995). Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice. (2nd edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    Slavin, R. E. (2009). Cooperative learning. In G. McCulloch & D. Crook (Eds.) International Encyclopedia of Education. Abington, UK: Routledge.
  3. Slavin, R. E. (1987). Ability grouping and student achievement in elementary schools: A best-evidence Slavin, R. E. (1994). School and classroom organization in beginning reading: Class size, aides, and instructional grouping. In R. E. Slavin, N. L. Karweit, B. A. Wasik, & N. A. Madden (Eds.), Preventing early school failure: Research on effective strategies. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  4. Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Kulik, C. C., J. A., & Morgan, M. (1991). The instructional effect of feedback in test-like events. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 213-238.
    Reeves, D. B. (Ed.) (2007). Ahead of the curve: The power of assessment to transform teaching and learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
  5. Wasik, B. A., & Slavin, R. E. (1993). Preventing early reading failure with one-to-one tutoring: A review of five programs. Reading Research Quarterly, 28(2), 178–200.
  6. Epstein, J. L. (1995). School/family/community partnerships: Caring for the children we share. Phi Delta Kappan, 76, 701-712.
  7. Palincsar, A. S., Brown, A. L., & Martin, S. M. (1987). Peer interaction in reading comprehension instruction. Educational Psychologist, 22, 231-253.
  8. Joyce, B. & Showers, B. (1996). The evolution of peer coaching. Educational Leadership, 53 (6): 12–16.
  9. Chambers, B., Cheung, A., Madden, N. A., Slavin, R. E., & Gifford, R., (2006). Achievement effects of embedded multimedia in a Success for All reading program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 232-237.
  10. Bodine, R. J., Crawford, D. K., & Schrumpf, F. (1994). Creating the peaceable school: A comprehensive program for teaching conflict resolution. Champaign, IL: Research Press.
    Deutsch, M. (1992). The effects of training on co-operative learning and conflict resolution in an alternative high school. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
  11. Charles A. Dana Center. (1999). Hope for urban education: A study of nine high-performing, high-poverty, urban elementary schools. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin.
    Datnow, A., Park, VI, and Wohlstetter, P. (2007). Achieving with data: How high-performing school systems use data to improve instruction for elementary students. Los Angeles: Center of Educational Governance at University of Southern California.