Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Enhancing Reading Instruction for Children with Down Syndrome: A Behavioral Phenotypic Approach
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Puranik, Cynthia Awardee: University of Pittsburgh
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language Development      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/11–6/30/14 Award Amount: $1,445,011
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A110162
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Christopher Lemons (Vanderbilt University)

Purpose: Current methods of reading instruction have not been highly effective for children with Down syndrome. The purpose of this project is to improve reading outcomes for these children by developing an intervention that incorporates critical components of early reading (e.g., vocabulary, decoding skills, fluency) that have been adapted and modified to support the challenges with working and short-term memory, expressive language, and motivation often exhibited by children with Down syndrome.

Project Activities: Five phases of development, implementation, and revision will be used to design the intervention and evaluate its promise. In the first phase, the initial version of the reading intervention, assessments, training materials, and fidelity of implementation measures will be developed. During the second and third phases, tutors from the research team will deliver revised versions of the interventions based on outcomes from the previous phase. The feasibility of teachers implementing the intervention and the promise of the intervention will be examined using a multiple-baseline across participants, single-subject design during the fourth phase. Final modifications to the reading intervention and accompanying materials will be based on feedback from the classroom teachers during the last phase. The promise of the intervention will be evaluated by calculating students' reading growth and comparing outcomes for students who received the intervention to those who received typical instruction provided by the school and, for some reading measures, to normative data.

Products: The products of this project will be a fully developed intervention to teach reading to students with Down syndrome as well as published reports describing its promise for improving outcomes.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in urban and suburban school districts in Pennsylvania.

Population: Elementary school-aged students with Down syndrome from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds will participate in this research.

Intervention: The intervention will be a 16-week supplemental reading curriculum. It will target essential early reading skills including phonological awareness, decoding, sight word reading, fluency, and vocabulary. In addition, tasks will be designed to support behaviors commonly found with children with Down syndrome. These supports are intended to decrease working memory load, compensate for deficits in verbal short-term memory, support challenges with expressive language, and increase motivation. Tutoring will take place in one 45-minute session delivered three days per week. Students' starting point in the intervention will be based on a screening assessment; therefore, not all students will begin with the first lesson of the program.

Research Design and Methods: Five phases of development, implementation, and revision will be used to design the intervention and evaluate its promise. In the first phase, the initial version of the reading intervention, assessments, training materials, and fidelity of implementation measures will be developed. During the second phase, an implementation study of the intervention will be conducted with children randomly assigned to receive the treatment or control condition and the instruction provided by tutors from the research team. During the third phase, the intervention will be refined and implemented across one academic year using tutors from the research team. The feasibility of teachers implementing the intervention and the promise of the intervention will be examined using a multiple-baseline across participants, single-subject design during the fourth phase. The last phase will involve making final modifications to the reading intervention and accompanying materials based on feedback from the classroom teachers.

Control Condition: Students will participate in instruction typically provided by the schools.

Key Measures: Information about program implementation and acceptability will be collected through observations of lessons and interviews with teachers, tutors, and parents. Data will be collected on literacy using assessments of phonological awareness, letter knowledge, decoding, sight word reading, and fluency. Finally, the students' verbal ability, reasoning skills, spatial ability, working memory, and processing speed will be assessed.

Data Analytic Strategy: Visual analysis will be used to document a functional relation between the intervention and the reading outcomes. In addition, hierarchical linear modeling will be used to estimate the slopes for each participant using the progress monitoring measures. The number of children who obtained the end-of-year benchmarks will also be calculated, and performance will be compared to normative data for some reading measures. Finally, outcomes for students who received the intervention will be compared to those who received typical instruction provided by the school.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Lemons, C. J., Allor, J., Al Otaiba, S., and LeJeune, L.M. (2016). 10 Research-Based Tips for Enhancing Literacy Instruction for Students with Intellectual Disability. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 49(1): 18–30. doi:10.1177/0040059916662202 Full text

Lemons, C.J., King, S.A., Davidson, K.A., Puranik, C.S., Fulmer, D.J., Mrachko, A.A., Partanen, J., Al Otaiba, S., and Fidler, D.J. (2015). Adapting Phonological Awareness Interventions for Children With Down Syndrome Based on the Behavioral Phenotype: A Promising Approach?. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 53(4): 271–288. doi:10.1352/1934–9556–53.4.271


Back