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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Scaling-up Peer-assisted Learning Strategies: A Longitudinal, Multi-site Randomized Control Trial to Determine Necessary On-site Technical Assistance to Teacher Implementers

Doug Fuchs, Vanderbilt University
Mark Berends, Vanderbilt University
Loulee Yen, Vanderbilt University
Kristen McMaster, University of Minnesota
Laura Saenz, University of Texas-Pan American

Abstract: Across 5 years, we are exploring necessary levels of on-site teacher assistance to scale-up a research-validated reading intervention-Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS). We target 2 grade levels at which challenges to scaling-up may differ substantially: kindergarten, where an important reading objective is word-level skills; and 4th grade, where a major challenge is to transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

In Year 1 (2004-2005), we conducted a 17-week, randomized control trial in 6 of the poorest counties in south Texas; in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington, Minnesota; and in Nashville, TN. At each site, about 50 kindergarten teachers (with 1000 students) were randomly assigned within their schools to 4 conditions: no-PALS (level 1); a 1-day PALS workshop (level 2); a 1-day PALS workshop followed by several "booster" sessions (level 3); and a 1-day PALS workshop, followed by several booster sessions, and once-per-week mentoring (level 4). On all PALS teachers (levels 2, 3, 4) and students, we conducted systematic observations of their PALS implementation twice during the year. We also tested sub-groups of high-achieving, average-achieving, and low-achieving (including special needs) kindergartners in each class prior to and immediately following the intervention on a battery of phonological and reading tasks.

We applied 3-level HLM (student nested within class; classes nested within schools) to posttreatment phonological awareness and reading scores, corrected for pretreatment scores, to explore the importance of the respective levels of teacher assistance (1 = controls; 2, 3, 4 = increasingly intensive support) and implementation site (Nashville, Minnesota, Texas). Results indicated scaling-up effects (2, 3, 4> 1 across the three sites) for phonological awareness skills. For word reading measures, there were teacher assistance level x site interactions, whereby 2, 3, 4> 1 for Nashville. This pattern was less consistent in Minnesota and Texas. For reading in connected text: 3, 4> 1, but 2 = 1 in Nashville. Thus, in Nashville, more intensive levels of teacher support promoted reading in connected text.