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IES Grant

Title: Using Data to Foster the School Success of Students with Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Doll, Elizabeth Awardee: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Program: Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 6/1/2011–5/31/2014 Award Amount: $1,496,461
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A110131

Purpose: Increasingly, special educators are expected to use data in their day-to-day deliberations in support of students. However, teachers often report that they are unprepared to choose and apply reliable strategies for data collection and make good use of data in their deliberations about how to best support student learning. In addition, special education teams in rural areas are often working in isolation and do not have meaningful opportunities to share best practices.

The purpose of this project is to develop and examine the feasibility of NU Data, a professional development intervention aimed at preparing special education teams to use data-based decision making to improve academic outcomes for students with disabilities. The intervention will involve distance education that combines technology with teaming and coaching. The goal is to improve professional growth while minimizing scheduling and travel constraints.

Project activities: The project will utilize an iterative curriculum development process aimed at improving the feasibility, usability, and potential impact of the NU Data intervention. Using a guided practice framework, the researchers will implement data-based decision making with teachers of students with disabilities. The teams of teachers will implement the NU Data intervention in their schools while using online resource materials, receiving ongoing coaching, and interacting within peer networks of other special education teams. The researchers will collect student outcome data and conduct observations, interviews, and focus groups with teachers to evaluate the results of implementation and identify strategies, routines, and practices to enhance the intervention for implementation during subsequent years. The intervention will be revised through an iterative process of implementation, data collection, data analysis, and curriculum enhancement.

Products: The primary product of the project is a fully developed NU Data intervention. The intervention consists of a manual of intervention procedures and online resource materials including podcasted lectures, video clips, case examples, and coaching cases. Additional products include pilot data examining the promise of the intervention for improving outcomes for students with disabilities, as well as publications and presentations on research activities and findings.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in rural and urban schools in Nebraska.

Population: Participants in the study include 15 three-member special education teams (special education teachers, general education teachers, school psychologists, and other educators) and approximately six students with disabilities served by each team. Approximately 100 students with disabilities (K–12) will be involved in the project.

Intervention: The NU Data intervention is a professional development intervention that is intended to prepare special education teams to use data-based decision making to improve academic outcomes for students with disabilities in K–12 classrooms. The NU Data curriculum is designed to improve data skills of special education teams in six areas: (1) knowledge of a variety of data collection protocols; (2) selecting and using data protocols that best address relevant questions about student success; (3) collating and graphing data using commonly available tools; (4) discerning and interpreting trends and meaningful differences in student data; (5) using objective student data in team problem solving to plan ways to strengthen student success; and (6) using data to select evidence-based intervention strategies to strengthen students' school success.

Research Design and Methods: The project will involve an iterative curriculum development process aimed at improving the feasibility, usability, and potential impact of the NU Data intervention. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected throughout the project and used to identify areas of refinement to the intervention. Data to be collected include team members' knowledge and use of the six data skills identified in the curriculum, fidelity of teachers' adherence to the critical elements of the intervention, and a variety of student outcome data before and after implementation. Focus groups and interviews will be used to gather data on team members' perceptions of the relevance, acceptability, and impact on student success of the intervention.

Control Group: There is no control group.

Key Measures: The project will collect data using a number of measures focused on both teacher and student outcomes. These include the Nebraska Standards Assessments, Check and Connect Monitoring Sheet, Teacher Participation Reports, ClassMaps Survey, and various curriculum-based measures in reading and mathematics including the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy. The researchers will use the School Team Analysis Record to rate the paper documentation of data-based decision making to determine usage and quality. The researchers will also develop measures of fidelity to monitor the extent to which teachers enact critical features of the NU Data curriculum.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will apply multilevel models to account for the nested structure of the data. These models will be used to address the research questions regarding teachers' use and knowledge of data-based problem solving and whether NU Data usage is related to any improvements in students' academic and engagement outcomes. Transcribed data from the focus groups and interviews will be analyzed for codes and themes using MAXQDA qualitative analysis software. Codes will be grouped together to form larger themes and the themes will be used to identify areas for refinement of the intervention.