|Development of a Supplemental Instructional Course in Reading and Writing Arguments for Ninth Graders at Risk of Leaving School Before Graduating
|State University of New York (SUNY), Albany
|Literacy [Program Details]
|3 years (8/1/2014-7/31/2017)
|Development and Innovation
Co-Principal Investigator: Donna Scanlon, Glenn Deane, Heidi Andrade
Purpose: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) emphasize reading complex texts and writing argumentative and explanatory essays across content areas, including social studies. However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that 70 percent of twelfth graders do not read and write proficiently. Additionally, research shows that students who are behind academically by the end of ninth grade are at greater risk for leaving school before graduating. Supplementary literary instruction in high school is needed for this population but is often inadequate or absent. In this project, researchers will attempt to address these needs by developing and pilot testing Arguing Like a Lawyer (ALL), a semester-long supplemental English Language Arts or social studies course for ninth graders. ALL will teach students to read for understanding, gather evidence from text, develop arguments, and present them in writing.
Project Activities: The goal of this project is to iteratively develop and pilot test the ALL course. In the first two years of the project, researchers will develop the course, during which time teachers will teach progressive iterations of the course, collaborate with researchers on revisions, and provide feedback on usability and feasibility. Fidelity measures will be developed and tested also. During the third year, researchers will conduct a pilot test that will involve new teachers and students randomly assigned to receive ALL in the fall or spring semester, with the spring semester students serving as a waitlist control group. Students will be assessed before the fall semester, between the fall and spring semesters, and after the spring semester.
Products: The final product of this study will be the fully-developed Arguing Like a Lawyer intervention for ninth-grade students. Peer reviewed publications and other dissemination products will also be produced.
Setting: This study will be conducted in two high schools near Albany, New York.
Sample: Participants will include four English Language Arts and social studies teachers and their 384 students in the development portion of the project. Four teachers and their 96 students will participate in the pilot study.
Intervention: ALL is a semester-long course designed for ninth graders as a supplementary English Language Arts or social studies course. Students will be taught to read text deeply, gather evidence from text, develop arguments, and present those arguments in writing. The topics on which students will read and write will include topics that are important to their social lives, such as bullying. The course will be two 10-weeks units. Students will read multiple complex texts and use note-taking techniques to gather evidence. They will also learn how to take a position and to defend their position in conversations with their peers. The second unit will involve the same activities as the first, but with less support from the teacher.
Research Design and Methods: In the first two years of the project, researchers will develop the course, during which time teachers will teach progressive iterations of the course, collaborate with researchers on revisions, and provide feedback on usability and feasibility. Four iterations will be completed over the two years, one iteration per semester. Fidelity measures will be developed and tested, as well as formative assessments. During the third year, researchers will conduct a pilot test that will involve new teachers and students randomly assigned to receive ALL in the fall or spring semester, with the spring semester students serving as a waitlist control group. All students will be assessed before the fall semester, between the fall and spring semesters, and after the spring semester.
Control Condition: Students will be randomized into either the fall or spring semester of ALL. Students in the spring semester will serve as a waitlist control group. During the semester in which students are not assigned to ALL, they will participate in other elective courses.
Key Measures: A set of formative assessments will be developed and refined for use during the ALL course. The Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE) passage comprehension subtest will be used as the pretest and posttest summative reading assessment. Researchers will develop a summative argumentative writing assessment based on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) writing assessment. Additionally, studentsí quarterly grades from eighth and ninth grades will be used to examine the impact of ALL on course grades.
Data Analytic Strategy: During the development phase, data will be collected from students and teachers to assess the feasibility and usability of ALL and to aid with the revision process. Audio recorders will capture all lessons. Teachers will also provide a log in which they can write questions about the intervention components and their thoughts about lessons. Research assistants will observe teachers as they implement the lessons. The researcher-developed formative assessments will help researchers to understand the functioning of the intervention. During the pilot study, the research team will assess students before the fall semester, between semesters, and after the spring semester. To look for changes over time in studentsí achievement outcomes, researchers will analyze data using multilevel modeling with time nested within students. Additionally, researchers will analyze eighth and ninth grade quarterly grades using multilevel modeling in order to identify discreet points of change in grades that may be associated with ALL.