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IES Grant

Title: Passport to Literacy: Examining the Effectiveness of the Voyager Passport Intervention for Fourth-grade Students with or at High Risk for Reading Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Wanzek, Jeanne Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language Development      [Program Details]
Award Period: 07/01/2013–06/30/2017 Award Amount: $3,464,901
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A150269
Description:

Previous Award Number: R324A130262
Previous Awardee: Florida State University

Purpose: Many students who enter fourth grade, particularly those with disabilities, struggle significantly with reading. An estimated 69 percent of fourth-graders with disabilities and 30 percent of fourth-graders without disabilities cannot read at basic levels. Students who enter the upper grades as poor readers continue to struggle throughout their schooling. They are at high risk for academic failure, drop out, unemployment, low income, and criminal activity.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate the Voyager Passport intervention with fourth-grade children with or at high risk for reading disabilities to determine whether it improves reading outcomes. Despite its wide use, Voyager Passport has never been rigorously evaluated. Two efficacy studies will be conducted during this project. The first study will examine the efficacy of Voyager Passport compared to instruction and intervention typically provided by the schools for students with reading difficulties. The second study will compare three groups to determine the relative efficacy of standard implementation of Voyager Passport compared to an intensified version of the program (e.g., longer instruction) and to instruction typically provided by schools to students with severe reading difficulties.

Project Activities: Approximately 650 fourth-graders with reading difficulties and disabilities and 280 students who do not struggle with reading will participate in this research project. Two efficacy studies will be conducted during this project. The first study will examine the efficacy of Voyager Passport compared to instruction and intervention typically provided by the schools for students with reading difficulties and disabilities. The second study will compare the relative efficacy of standard implementation of Voyager Passport to an intensified version and to instruction typically provided by schools for students with the most severe reading difficulties and disabilities. For both studies, two successive cohorts of fourth-grade students will participate. Students will be paired or put into groups of three, randomly assigned to condition within pairs/groups, and assessed immediately after the intervention and in the fall and spring of the year following the intervention. Data will be analyzed to estimate immediate and long-term differences between groups on reading outcomes.

Products: The products of this project will include reports on the efficacy of standard and intensive implementations of the Voyager Passport intervention for improving reading outcomes for students with reading difficulties or disabilities, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research project will be conducted in elementary schools in Florida and Texas.

Population: Approximately 650 fourth-grade students with reading difficulties and disabilities and 280 comparison students without reading problems will participate in this research project. Students who score at or below the 25th percentile on a latent variable of reading comprehension using the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests, Comprehension Test, and the Test of Silent Reading Efficiency and Comprehension will participate in the first study. Students who score at or below the 10th percentile on the latent variable of reading comprehension will participate in the second study.

Intervention: Standard implementation of Voyager Passport involves supplemental intervention provided to small homogenous instructional groups of four to six students over the school year. The intervention includes 30-minute lessons, 5 days a week for 25 weeks, and addresses phonics, word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The intervention also includes biweekly measures to monitor progress so that instructional adjustments can be made as needed. The intensive implementation of Voyager Passport is intended to be provided in smaller instructional groups (two to three students) and adds 15 minutes of instruction to a standard lesson. The extra 15 minutes includes instruction in fluency with additional text and materials for reading, writing in response to text, word reading and word relationships, and independent reading strategies.

Research Design and Methods: Two randomized controlled trials will be conducted during the project period. For the first study, standard implementation of Voyager Passport will be compared to instruction typically provided by the schools for students who score at or below the 25th percentile on the screening measure. For the second study, the researchers will compare standard implementation of Voyager Passport, intensive implementation of Voyager Passport, and instruction typically provided by the schools for students with more severe reading difficulties who score at or below the 10th percentile on the screening measure. For both studies, two successive cohorts of fourth-grade students will participate. For the first study, students will be randomized to receive the standard Passport intervention or the business-as-usual school comparison. Pairs of students with similar scores within school will be created based on a rank ordering of students on the screening measure. The students within each pair will be randomly assigned to either: (a) Voyager Passport, or (b) business-as-usual school comparison. Triplets of students will be created for the second study based on students' screening scores. Students within each triplet will be randomly assigned to: (a) standard Voyager Passport, (b) intensive Voyager Passport, or (c) business-as-usual comparison. Students in each pair or triplet will be assessed immediately after the intervention and in the fall and spring of the year following the intervention. The team will also implement a regression discontinuity design to compare outcomes of students who participated in the two intervention studies with their peers who do not struggle with reading and did not participate in the two intervention studies.

Control Condition: Students will receive reading instruction and intervention typically provided by their schools. Teachers in the control condition will be provided 12 hours of professional development in effective instruction in reading, but not related to the specific Voyager Passport intervention.

Key Measures: Key outcomes include individual and group-administered measures of students' word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. The team will also collect data via audiotaped instructional sessions on instructional practices implemented in treatment and comparison conditions and on stakeholders' views of the relevance and importance of the intervention. Finally, demographic data for the teachers, including years of teaching experience, certification, and degrees earned, will be collected.

Data Analytic Strategy: A series of data analysis techniques—including latent difference models with students nested in clusters, a combination of traditional latent growth models, and an extension of these models known as a Multiple Indicator Growth Model—will be used to estimate immediate and long-term differences between treatment groups on reading outcomes. A regression discontinuity analysis will be conducted to examine the benefit of either implementation of Voyager Passport relative to higher performing students who did not participate in the intervention studies. Finally, the team will investigate potential mediators and moderators of intervention effectiveness, including student language skills, student behavior, and teaching experience.

Publications from this project:

Vaughn, S., & Wanzek, J. (2014). Intensive interventions in reading for students with reading disabilities: Meaningful impacts. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 29, 46–53.

Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M., & Capin, P. (in press). Meta-analyses of the effects of tier 2 type reading interventions in grades k–3. Educational Psychology Review.


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