Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Testing an Integrated Preschool Curriculum for English Language Learners
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Landry, Susan H. Awardee: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2011–2/28/2015 Award Amount: $3,035,724
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A110079

Purpose: The number of English language learners (ELL) has grown considerably in recent years, and the number of children classified as limited English proficient rose 76 percent in a 10-year span. The ELL population is also impoverished: over three-quarters of Spanish-speaking ELL children in the United States come from low-income families. Many of these children are at risk for developing disabilities and special education referrals. Yet there is a lack of empirically validated instructional approaches and effective tools for helping teachers deliver individualized instruction to this population. The current study will evaluate the use of a Spanish adaptation of a comprehensive curriculum, Literacy Express, which focuses on cognitive instruction in small groups in preschool classrooms. It will be compared to a "business as usual" condition with teachers using the Scholastic Early Childhood Program (SECP) curriculum, developed for large group and center-based activities without attention to the use of small group instruction. Both conditions will receive paraprofessional support for 90 minutes, four days each week. In the treatment condition, paraprofessionals will be trained on the implementation of small group activities using Literacy Express. In the business as usual condition, teachers will use the paraprofessionals in any way they want in their classrooms.

Project Activities: Researchers will conduct a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of the Spanish adaptation of Literacy Express on low-income preschool English language learners (ELL) at risk for developing disabilities. Across the first three years of the project, 102 preschool classrooms (34 per year) will be recruited and randomly assigned into the Literacy Express or SECP condition. Eight children screened for disability risk will be recruited from each preschool classroom. Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted during the preschool year, and a follow-up will be conducted in kindergarten to assess whether the effects of the intervention are sustained after the intervention year. Outcomes will include measures of child literacy, language, math, and social skills and teacher instructional practices.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of the Spanish adaptation of the Literacy Express intervention, published reports, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will be conducted in preschool classrooms in Texas.

Population: The study will target 4-year-old ELL children from low-income families who are at risk for developing disabilities.

Intervention: The Spanish adaptation of Literacy Express is a comprehensive, small-group focused, school readiness curriculum for improving literacy, language, and math in ways that also support social skills for at-risk preschool children. The teachers and aides in the Literacy Express condition will receive training at the beginning and across the school year (five days total) in how to implement the curriculum. This training includes using data to inform the formation of the small groups that will occur across four 15-minute modules (90 minutes total) and two 15-minute curriculum-linked center activities four days each week. Content topics for training will include: 1) professional practices (including classroom management and supportive teaching styles); 2) language building activities; 3) conducting book readings in ways that promote language/literacy skills (e.g., word repetition); 4) using effective teaching strategies to build language comprehension and expression (e.g., linking words to literature); 5) print and book awareness; 6) motivation to read; 7) phonological awareness; 8) alphabet knowledge and early word recognition; 9) written expression; and 10) mathematics. The training will include didactic information, discussion, role playing of the instructional activities and specialized dual-language scaffolding techniques. It also will include guidance on using a personal digital assistant (PDA) progress monitoring system to inform the formation of the small learning groups and guide instruction. Further support for teachers' and teacher aides' effective use of PDA monitoring information will come from monthly mentor visits.

Research Design and Methods: This study will utilize a three-cohort cluster randomized trial. One classroom will be selected per school, and children will be nested within classroom. Classrooms will be randomly assigned to the Literacy Express intervention or to the business as usual SCEP condition. Eight children will be recruited from each classroom. Pre- and post measures will assess immediate effects of the intervention, and follow-up in kindergarten will assess sustained effects of the intervention.

Control Condition: Classrooms assigned to this condition will represent standard practice (i.e., "business as usual") in their districts. They will receive the Scholastic Early Childhood Program (SECP) curriculum, which focuses on large group and center-based activities. They will also receive paraprofessional support 90 minutes per day, four days per week.

Key Measures: Multiple measures will be used to assess child literacy, language, math, and social skills, as well as teacher instructional practices. The researchers will also collect data on the fidelity of the intervention implementation.

Data Analytic Strategy: To test the efficacy of the Spanish adaptation of Literacy Express while adequately addressing the nested structure of the data, the team will conduct multilevel analyses that account for repeated measurements of individuals across time. Researchers will test hypotheses with mixed-model analysis of covariance. These analyses will include variables that may moderate or mediate the outcomes.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Landry, S.H., Anthony, J.L., Swank, P.R., and Monseque-Bailey, P. (2009). Effectiveness of Comprehensive Professional Development for Teachers of At-Risk Preschoolers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(2): 488–465. doi:10.1037/a0013842