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IES Grant

Title: A Conceptual Efficacy Replication of the TELL Preschool Curriculum with Web-Based Implementation Support and Professional Development Variations
Center: NCSER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Wilcox, M. Jeanne Awardee: Arizona State University
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (08/01/2019-07/31/2024) Award Amount: $3,599,825
Type: Replication Efficacy Award Number: R324A190181

Co-Principal Investigators: Gray, Shelley; Reiser, Mark

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to investigate the efficacy of the Teaching Early Literacy and Language (TELL) curriculum when professional development (PD) support is delivered through a web-based platform with variations on the number of specific PD components. TELL and its associated PD was developed by the research team to address the needs of preschool-aged children with developmental speech and/or language impairment. The initial efficacy trial showed improvements in a variety of language and early literacy skills. However, because all teachers participated in all PD activities, it was not possible to determine whether every component is needed. To increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the intervention, this study will transfer some in-person PD components to the web and examine whether there are significant differences in children's language and literacy outcomes based on the number of PD components teachers receive. In addition to investigating the impact on teacher fidelity and classroom and child outcomes, the study will examine whether different types of implementation fidelity (adherence, dose quality) and child- and teacher-level factors affect the impact of the TELL PD on child outcomes, the cost effectiveness of the intervention, and the implementation supports that are needed and preferred by teachers.

Project Activities: This study will compare three versions of PD for the TELL curriculum with varying numbers of components. In Year 1, the research team will conduct activities to prepare the intervention for use and recruit and train the first cohort of teachers. In Years 2 through 4, each of the three cohorts will receive the assigned PD activities and implement TELL in their classrooms. Data will be collected from all study participants during those years. In the final year, the researchers will analyze the data and disseminate the results.

Products: Products for this project include evidence of the comparative efficacy and cost-effectiveness of three versions of the TELL curriculum for preschool children with developmental speech and/or language impairment. The project will also result in a final dataset to be shared, peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This research will take place in pre-kindergarten programs operated by school districts in Arizona that include children eligible for education services for speech and language impairment under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

Sample: Participants in this study will include 108 pre-kindergarten teachers who have experience teaching in a classroom with children with disabilities and approximately 540-648 children (5-6 children per class). The children will be in their final year of pre-kindergarten (primarily age 4) receiving IDEA Part B services for developmental speech and/or language impairment as a primary or secondary condition.

Intervention: TELL is a class-wide curriculum with evidenced-based oral language and early literacy teaching practices that can be embedded into any preschool activity, such as small or large group instruction and outdoor play. Lesson plans are designed for embedding the practices into different content areas, including science, math, art, music, movement, and social-emotional development. In this study, there will be comparisons among three variations of PD for implementing TELL with fidelity. In addition, some PD activities that had been implemented in-person in previous studies will now occur online. The standard PD group will receive face-to-face training during a workshop approximately 2 months prior of the start of the school year and an additional face-to-face training after the winter break. The ModPD condition will receive the standard training plus monthly participation in professional learning communities through videoconferencing. The MaxPD condition will receive the standard training, participate in the professional learning communities, and receive 12 individual coaching sessions from external coaches. For coaching, teachers will upload videos of their own implementation, the coaches will provide annotated feedback on the videos, and they will meet to discuss the video via videoconferencing.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a randomized controlled trial with three different conditions, each with a varying number of PD components for the TELL intervention—standard PD, ModPD, and MaxPD. Random assignment will occur at the school level, with classrooms nested within schools. In Year 1, the research team will prepare to implement the intervention for the RCT, including printing and packaging the curriculum, acquiring all the needed materials, preparing additional support materials, and transferring the PD content that had been delivered face-to-face to the web-based system. In addition, the research team will recruit teachers for the first cohort and conduct the initial workshop. In Year 2, the first cohort will implement the intervention in their classrooms, participate in their respective PD activities, and participate in data collection. In Years 3 and 4, the second and third cohorts, respectively, will participate. In Year 5, the researchers will analyze the data and engage in dissemination activities. The researchers will examine whether there are significant differences in children's language and literacy outcomes based on the number of PD components teachers receive, as well as whether child outcomes are affected by different types of implementation fidelity, teacher and classroom outcomes, and other child characteristics. A cost analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis will also be conducted and compared across each version of the intervention. As part of the implementation study, the research team will collect additional survey and qualitative data to create different classroom implementation profiles, adjust them based on individual teachers, and generate hypotheses about what drives implementation.

Control Condition: Although all PD versions will be compared to one another, the primary counterfactual condition is the TELL with standard PD, which includes the initial workshop and follow-up sessions only.

Key Measures: Child outcome measures include investigator-developed curriculum-based measures, which assess receptive and expressive vocabulary, letter names, letter sounds, beginning sound awareness, narrative listening comprehension, expository book comprehension, and print knowledge. Standardized assessments will also be used to measure child outcomes, including the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Preschool-2nd Edition (CELF-P2), the Preschool Print and Word Awareness Test, and the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators. Parents will complete a family demographic questionnaire as well as the CELF-P2 parent questionnaire to provide information about their child's language and literacy development. Teacher measures include standardized surveys to assess knowledge, beliefs about literacy preschool instruction, and self-efficacy; qualitative data from interviews and portfolios; a demographic survey; and ratings of school district implementation support and usefulness of each of the TELL PD activities. The researcher-developed fidelity measure covers frequency, dose, and quality of language and literacy instruction during TELL-structured learning opportunities, based on observation of classroom videotapes submitted by teachers. Overall classroom quality will be assessed with the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and language and the literacy environment will be assessed with the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation-Revised. Finally, costs associated with implementing each PD component, as well as combinations of components, will be calculated.

Data Analytic Strategy: For the primary comparisons of outcomes between PD versions, the researchers will use a linear mixed-modeling analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and growth curve modeling. To examine whether differences in children's outcomes are affected by different aspects of teacher implementation, they will use multi-level models. To examine what child, instructional, or teacher characteristics may moderate or mediate the impact of the intervention on child outcomes, they will use interaction terms within the ANCOVAs. They will examine differences in classroom quality and teacher implementation fidelity using multivariate ANCOVA. Teacher factors—such as self-efficacy and literacy instruction beliefs—will be investigated with multivariate regression models. Implementation supports preferred by and most effective for teachers will be described by integrating qualitative and quantitative data and creating classroom implementation profiles. Cost-effectiveness will be investigated by generating benefit-to-cost ratios for all three conditions.

Related Projects: The Development and Efficacy of a Curriculum-Based Language and Early Literacy Intervention for Preschool Children with Developmental Disabilities (R324E060023); Efficacy Trials with a New Early Literacy and Language Curriculum for Preschool Children with Developmental Speech and/or Language Impairment (R324A110048); Efficacy of the TELL Curriculum for Preschool Children who are Economically Disadvantaged (R305A170068); Developing an Extension of the TELL Curriculum for 3-Year-Old Children with Developmental Speech and/or Language Impairment (R324A180093)