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IES Grant

Title: A Randomized Controlled Study of the Efficacy of Reading Apprenticeship Professional Development for High School History and Science Teaching and Learning
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Greenleaf, Cynthia Awardee: WestEd
Program: Effective Teachers and Effective Teaching      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,997,972
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305M050031

Co-Principal Investigators: Steve Schneider, WestED and Joan Herman, UCLA

Many students who reach middle and high school do not possess sufficient reading skills to learn new knowledge when reading content texts. In the same vein, many subject-area teachers in middle and secondary schools are ill-prepared to teach reading to students who need extra help in deciphering complex subject-matter text books. The purpose of this project is to find out how well the Reading Apprenticeship professional development program can improve teachers' integration of reading instruction into high school science and history and the extent to which it increases student reading and content proficiency.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to investigate the efficacy of the Reading Apprenticeship professional development program to improve teachers' integration of reading instruction into high school science and history and to increase student reading and content proficiency.

Setting: 9th/10th grade Biology and 11th grade U.S. History classrooms in 50 high schools from 5 school districts across California, serving populations of students historically underrepresented in higher education.

Population(s): A maximum of 200 teachers will be assigned to treatment and control groups (100 per condition). All teachers will be credentialed in their field and have taught for at least 3 years at the initiation of the study. Approximately, 6,000 students will be included in the study comprised of high numbers of English Language Learners, African American, and Latino students, and those from low-income groups.

Intervention: The professional development comprises: (1) an 8-day training session (5 days in summer and 3 days throughout year targeting support needs), (2) regional meetings with teachers and professional development coaches and connecting regions via video camera, (3) monthly exchanges via Internet, (4) funds and a list of reading materials to supplement locally-adopted textbooks, and (5) a subsidy for the cost of participation and honoraria for time.

Research Design and Methods: This study uses a group-randomized, pretest/posttest control group design for 2 cohorts of teachers. 50 high schools will be randomly assigned to the experimental or control groups (25 per group) with high schools matched on race/ethnicity, ELL, and socio-demographic characteristics as well as academic performance. 2 biology teachers and 2 U.S. History teachers per school will be selected to participate. Biology student achievement will be tracked for two years, and U.S. History student achievement for one year. As an incentive for schools to participate in the study, schools with Biology classes in the experimental group will have U.S. History classes in the control group, and vice versa.

Measures of learning and engagement with reading biology and U.S. history as well as instructional practice will be used to measure the effect of professional development. Qualitative data from a smaller sample of teachers will be used to validate and explain quantitative findings and to identify factors that influence the success of the pedagogical approach. Using these methodologies, the link will be traced between professional development for teachers, changes in classroom practices, and the ways in which student-teacher level variables influence performance.

Control Condition: Participants in the control condition will be exposed to existing teacher professional development opportunities (practice-as-usual). Participation in professional development activities changes in teaching practices, acquisition of knowledge and skills, and other changes in conditions and circumstances will be tracked and monitored in the control group.

Key Measures: Student measures will include norm-referenced state measures and student surveys. Teacher measures will include surveys, teacher assignments, and observations of practice.

Data Analytic Strategy: To preserve random assignment and account for volunteers, outcome analyses will include all assessed teachers and their students, whether or not they actually participated in the professional development activities and used the reading instructional approaches (an intent-to-treat analysis). The primary hypothesis-testing analyses will involve fitting linear mixed effects ANCOVA models (HLM or multilevel models). Mixed effects models will also be used to examine variation in program impacts on student achievement in intervention schools. Qualitative data analysis will be used to explain findings and rule out alternative explanations for results.

Publications from this project:

Schoenbach, R., Greenleaf, C., and Murphy, L. (2012).Reading for Understanding: How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms. John Wiley & Sons.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Reading and Writing in FY 2005.