Incremental Rehearsal

Study: Peterson, Brandes, Kunkel, Wilson, Rahn, Egan, et al. (2014)

Descriptive Information


Acquisition and Cost

Program Specifications and Requirements


A student is presented with flashcards containing unknown items added in to a group of known items. Presenting known information along with unknown can increase retention of the newly learned items, behavioral momentum and resulting time on task. Research shows that this technique can be used with sight/vocabulary words, simple math facts, letter names, and survival words/signs.

Incremental Rehearsal is intended for use in Kindergarten through eighth grade. The program is intended for use with students with disabilities (including learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities), and any student at risk of academic failure. The academic area of focus is early literacy (alphabet knowledge), reading (fluency), and mathematics (computation).

Where to Obtain: 
The intervention is an instructional technique that is available to anyone.

The intervention is listed on several websites including: and

Cost: Incremental Rehearsal is a non-commercial intervention and, therefore, does not have a formal pricing plan.

It is recommended that Incremental Rehearsal is used with individual students 10-15 minutes per session, three to four days a week, for 10-15 weeks.

The program does not include a highly specified teacher’s manual.

Incremental Rehearsal does not require technology.

Training is not required for the instructor.

The minimum qualifications of instructors are that they must be paraprofessionals. The program does not assume that the instructor has expertise in a given area. 

Training manuals and materials are available. The technique is described in two places. There is an unpublished document (Tucker, 1988) that is available for free from the author and is included in this application. It is also described in Tucker & Burns (2016), which is available for free to members of the National Association of School Psychologists and is included in this application. The technique has also been described in the dozens of articles that have been published about it.


Participants: Convincing Evidence

Sample size: The students attended kindergarten in a public elementary school in Minneapolis and each was previously identified by the school district as an English language learner (ELL) that received ELL services prior to the study. In addition, district assessments indicated that each participant scored between levels of “entering” and “beginning” English proficiency.

Risk Status: Participants were chosen based on Letter–Sound Fluency scores of 14 or below on the January administration of the Minneapolis Kindergarten Assessment, which is the district benchmark for students not projected to meet the proficiency standard on the state high-stake assessment in third grade. In addition, all students scored a 0 on a baseline measure of letter sound fluency.

  Age/Grade Gender Race-ethnicity Socioeconomic Status Disability Status ELL Status Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics
Case 1: Hector Kindergarten Male Hispanic Not Reported None ELL Hector was a 6-year old boy whose first language was Spanish.
Case 2: Ania Kindergarten Female Polish Not Reported None ELL Ania was a 5-year old student whose first language was Polish.
Case 3: Hai Yen Kindergarten Male Hmong Not Reported None ELL Hai Yen was a 6-year old student whose first language was Hmong.

Training of Instructors: The interventionists were 6 graduate students completing a Ph.D. in special education. Prior to implementation of the intervention, the graduate students participated in a 90-min training in assessment administration and intervention procedures. This training consisted of practice conducting assessments and implementing the intervention with typically developing children from a daycare facility. Parental consent was provided for each of the children participating in the intervention training. During this training, interobserver agreement (IOA) and fidelity were assessed for each graduate student. IOA was 100% for all assessments, and fidelity was above 90% for all graduate students so no further trainings were deemed necessary.

Design: Convincing Evidence

Does the study include three data points or sufficient number to document a stable performance within that phase?: Yes

Is there opportunity for at least three demonstrations of experimental control?: Yes

If the study is an alternating treatment design, are there five repetitions of the alternating sequence?: N/A

If the study is a multiple baseline, is it concurrent?: Yes

Fidelity of Implementation: Convincing Evidence

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: Procedural fidelity was assessed by the graduate students using a checklist modeled after the intervention script and consisting of the intervention steps. Categories assessed included set assessment, modeling of the new sounds, rehearsal sequence, error correction, and intervention termination. The observer rated each item as yes, no, or not applicable. Fidelity was calculated by dividing the number of correctly implemented components by the total components implemented. Fidelity was assessed during 27% of random intervention sessions across students (N = 13).

Provide documentation (i.e., in terms of numbers) of fidelity of treatment implementation: Treatment fidelity ranged from 92% to 100% (M = 99%).

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Measures Broader: N/A

Targeted Measure Reliability Statistics Relevance to Program Instuctional Content Exposure to Related Content Among Control Group
Letter Sound Fluency

Temporal stability = 0.90

Interrater, test-retest, and alternate forms = 0.82 or 0.83 according to the NCII Academic Progress Monitoring Tools Chart

The intervention taught letter sounds. Letter sounds are taught in business-as-usual kindergarten instruction.


Number of Outcome Measures: 1 Prereading

Mean ES - Targeted: N/A

Mean ES - Broader: N/A

Effect Size:

Visual Analysis (Single Subject Design): Convincing Evidence

Description of the method of analyses used to determine whether the intervention condition improved relative to baseline phase (e.g. visual analysis, computation of change score, mean difference): Data were visually analyzed and with percentage of all non-overlapping data (PAND), which was converted to phi.

Results in terms of within and between phase patterns: PAND across letter–sound sets was 98% (phi = 0.92) for Hector, 100% for Ania (phi = 1.0), and 95% (phi = 0.77) for Hai Yen. There was an immediate change in level for all three students for all three letter sets, with the exception of one data point for Hector. The trend changed from 0 to slight positive for all three students for all three data sets to a strongly positive trend. Hai Yen had a positive trend for the baseline data with Set C, but the trend increased sharply after starting the intervention. There was little variability for all of the baseline data sets. There was some variability for intervention data sets, but all intervention data ended with at least three consecutive data points at the highest possible score. There was a clear pattern across all three data sets for all three students.

Disaggregated Data for Demographic Subgroups: No

Disaggregated Data for <20th Percentile: No

Administration Group Size: Individual

Duration of Intervention: 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a week, 10-15 weeks

Minimum Interventionist Requirements: Paraprofessional , Training not required

Reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA: No

What Works Clearinghouse Review

This program was not reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse.


Evidence for ESSA

This program was not reviewed by Evidence for ESSA.

Other Research: Potentially Eligible for NCII Review: 9 studies

Bunn, R., Burns, M. K., Hoffman, H. H., & Newman, C. L. (2005). Using incremental rehearsal to teach letter identification with a preschool-aged child. Journal of Evidence Based Practice for Schools, 6, 124-134.

Burns, M. K. (2007). Comparison of opportunities to respond within a drill model when rehearsing sight words with a child with mental retardation. School Psychology Quarterly, 22, 250-263.

Burns, M. K., Dean, V. J., & Foley, S. (2004). Preteaching unknown key words with incremental rehearsal to improve reading fluency and comprehension with children identified as reading disabled. Journal of School Psychology, 42, 303-314.

DuBois, M. R., Volpe, R. J., & Hemphill, E. M. (2014). A randomized trial of a computer-assisted tutoring program targeting letter-sound expression. School Psychology Review, 43, 210-221.

DuBois, M. R., Volpe, R. J., Burns, M. K., & Hoffman, J. A. (2016). Parent-administered computer-assisted tutoring targeting letter-sound knowledge: Evaluation via multiple-baseline across three preschool students. Journal of School Psychology, 59, 39-53.

Klingbeil, D. A., Moeyaert, M., Archer, C. T., Chimboza, T. M., & Zwolski Jr, S. A. (2017). Efficacy of peer-mediated incremental rehearsal for English language learners. School Psychology Review, 46, 122-140.

Kwong, E., & Burns, M. K. (in press). Preliminary study of the effect of incremental rehearsal with a morphological component for teaching Chinese character recognition. School Psychology International.

Malloy, K. J., Gilbertson, D., & Maxfiled, J. (2007). Using brief experimental analysis for selecting reading interventions for English language learners. School Psychology Review, 36, 291 – 310.

Rahn, N. L., Wilson, J., Egan, A., Brandes, D., Kunkel, A., Peterson, M., & McComas, J. (2015). Using incremental rehearsal to teach letter sounds to English language learners. Education and Treatment of Children, 38, 71-91.