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IES Grant

Title: The Targeted Reading Intervention: A Web-Based Professional Development Program Targeting K-1 Classroom Teachers and Their Struggling Readers
Center: NCER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Vernon-Feagans, Lynne Awardee: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,127,642
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A100654

Purpose: The purpose of this proposal is to examine the effects of the Targeted Reading
Intervention (TRI) professional development program in helping rural kindergarten and first grade classroom teachers in low-wealth schools implement evidence-based, individualized reading instruction for the children in their classrooms who are struggling in learning how to read. Specifically, this proposal aims to understand whether the TRI can improve teacher knowledge in both the foundation and the pedagogy of the teaching of reading, but, more importantly, understanding whether the TRI can improve teacher practices in the teaching of reading that are linked to reading gains for struggling readers. The TRI was initially developed and tested via a series of small, randomized clinical trials. Results yielded large effect sizes for student outcomes (.4 to .7) that highlight the need to validate the mechanisms of change for teacher pedagogical content knowledge and practice through a large randomized controlled field trial.

Project Activities: A multi-site randomized clinical trial is proposed where kindergarten and first grade teachers within each of twenty rural schools will be randomly assigned to treatment or control status. Researchers intend to recruit two teachers in each grade at each school site, randomly assigning half to treatment and half to control. They anticipate three struggling readers and three non-struggling readers will participate within each classroom.  Teachers in the treatment condition will participate in the TRI professional development program, and control teachers will not. Both teacher and student outcome data will be collected, as well as observations of instruction.

Products: The products of this study will be published reports of the effects of the TRI professional development program on both teacher and student outcomes.


Setting: Twenty rural schools in Nebraska and North Carolina, representing different rural geographies.

Population: Participants are kindergarten and first grade teachers and their students from Title I schools that serve a high percentage of low-income and minority students.

Intervention: The TRI utilizes a technologically-mediated collaborative consultation model of professional development for classroom teachers. In this model, a TRI Consultant, via a laptop and webcam, supports diagnostically-driven instruction by the classroom teacher in one-on-one sessions in the classroom. Additionally, a collaborative professional learning team is established and includes the kindergarten and first grade teachers, the TRI Consultant, and an on-site literacy facilitator. This team meets weekly or biweekly to discuss individual children and receives periodic web-based reading workshops to facilitate their knowledge and practice.

Control Condition: The control group teachers will be given a laptop computer like the treatment teachers and will have access to online mathematics curriculum strategies. In addition, control teachers will be asked about their participation in professional development activities, changes in teaching practices, and acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Research Design and Methods: A multi-site randomized clinical trial is proposed where kindergarten and first grade teachers within schools are randomly assigned to treatment status. The research team intends to sample at least two teachers in each grade at each school site, randomly assigning half to treatment and half to control. Researchers anticipate that three struggling readers and three non-struggling readers will participate within each classroom.

Key Measures: Outcome measures about teachers will include questionnaires, observations, and assessments of pedagogical content knowledge in reading, instructional match, teacher-child relationship, classroom literacy practices, TRI fidelity, and extent of teachers’ use of the website.

Child measures will include a battery of standardized reading and reading-related assessments along with a survey of background demographic information.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use three-level piecewise growth models to assess the effect of intervention on the teacher outcomes hypothesized to be mediators of intervention. Also, in order to determine whether TRI produces increased literacy gains for struggling and non-struggling students and whether two years of teacher participation is associated with greater gains for students, a series of linear contrasts will be estimated along with Hierarchal Linear Models.

Related IES Projects: National Research Center on Rural Education Support (R305A040056)

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Amendum, S.J., Bratsch–Hines, M., and Vernon–Feagans, L. (2017). Investigating the Efficacy of a Web–Based Early Reading and Professional Development Intervention for Young English Learners. Reading Research Quarterly, 53(2): 155–174.

Bratsch–Hines, M.E., Vernon–Feagans, L., Varghese, C., and Garwood, J. (2017). Child Skills and Teacher Qualifications: Associations with Elementary Classroom Teachers’ Reading Instruction for Struggling Readers. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 32(4): 270–283.

Garwood, J.D., Varghese, C., and Vernon–Feagans, L. (2017). Internalizing Behaviors and Hyperactivity/Inattention: Consequences for Young Struggling Readers, and Especially Boys. Journal of Early Intervention, 39(3): 218–235.

Tichnor–Wagner, A., Garwood, J.D., Bratsch–Hines, M. and Vernon–Feagans, L. (2016). Home Literacy Environments and Foundational Literacy Skills for Struggling and Nonstruggling Readers in Rural Early Elementary Schools. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 31(1): 6–21.

Vernon–Feagans, L., Kainz, K., Hedrick, A., Ginsberg, M., and Amendum, S. (2013). Live Webcam Coaching to Help Early Elementary Classroom Teachers Provide Effective Literacy Instruction for Struggling Readers: The Targeted Reading Intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4): 1175–1187.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Reading and Writing in FY 2010.