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IES Grant

Title: A Partnership to Improve the Use of a Developmental Assessment Framework in Kindergarten
Center: NCER Year: 2014
Principal Investigator: Strand, Paul S. Awardee: Washington State University
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (8/1/2014-7/31/2016) Award Amount: $399,998
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H140135

Partner: Washington State Education Services District (ESD) 105v

Co-Principal Investigator: Cynthia Juarez (ESD 105), Brian F. French (Washington State University), Chad M. Gotch (Washington State University), Lexi Catlin (ESD 105), Constance Beecher (Iowa State University)

Education Issue: Washington State is piloting a developmental assessment framework, called WaKIDS, in full-day kindergarten classrooms. WaKIDS utilizes the Teaching Strategies Gold (TSGold) assessment tool which is intended to align and improve instructional practices. Additionally, some classrooms are piloting an enhanced version of WaKIDS, which involves professional support for teachers and more frequent use of TSGold. The current project will evaluate the adequacy of the mandated assessment tool for assessing literacy skills, and whether literacy outcomes are improved for students in the enhanced condition compared to the non-enhanced WaKIDS classrooms.

Partnership Significance and Goal: The goal of this partnership is to bring together Washington State University and Washington State Education Services District (ESD) 105 to conduct preliminary research on the adequacy of TSGold for assessing literacy skills and on the potential of the WaKIDS enhanced condition to improve literacy outcomes when compared to the non-enhanced condition. The partnership will also examine teacher responses to the use of WaKIDS and TSGold.

Partners and Partnership Activities: The Washington State University team brings together researchers with expertise on literacy outcomes in diverse early learning settings, reading development of at-risk students and those with disabilities, and research methodology and educational measurement. The mission of ESD 105 is to promote equal educational opportunities for all students in South Central Washington State by advocating for education excellence, assisting with administration and informational services, providing staff development, and managing cooperatives. ESD105 covers 60,000 students in 25 public school districts and 23 state-approved private and tribal schools. ESD 105 is one of nine ESDs in Washington and acts as a liaison between the school districts, the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Washington State Department of Early Learning, and the State Board of Education.

The partnership between Washington State University and ESD 105 will be developed through a variety of mechanisms. First, members from both partners will attend the Regional Early Learning Collaboration Steering Committee (RELCSC) meetings and form a RELCSC subcommittee with the goal of creating a network of contacts among the schools, and obtaining feedback to ensure the partnership seeks answers to relevant questions and that the research aims are well-aligned with district needs. The RELCSC subcommittee will be responsible for drafting bylaws focusing on the longevity of the partnership and ensuring adequate representation from all members. Second, the Data Collection and Study Design Committee will strategize on using existing data to answer the most immediate questions of the districts. The goal of this committee is to help districts conceptualize ways that their current data collection efforts can inform education practices. This committee will also provide training workshops for ESD staff to use and collect data. Third, the Conference Committee will involve members from both partners and focus on the dissemination of outcomes to local, regional, and state conferences. This committee will also be responsible for writing manuscripts for publication, and for drafting a written document outlining the protocol for dissemination of work including workflow structures, roles, and expectations.

Setting: This project will take place at school districts in ESD 105 in Washington State.

Population/Sample: This research project will involve approximately 3,140 kindergarten students and 128 kindergarten teachers.

Initial Analysis: In order to determine the validity of the TSGold assessment, the partnership will explore the correlations between the TSGold literacy items and scores on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and the Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) achievement battery. TSGold and DIBELS data will be collected by the school districts and the ESD. A stratified subsample of 60 students will be administered the WJIII during the 2014/2015 school year. Teachers will complete the Teacher Educational Measurement Literacy Scales (TEMLS) during the 2014/2015 school year. Researchers will conduct data analyses to examine the impact of the enhanced WaKIDS condition on student literacy outcomes as compared to the non-enhanced WaKIDS condition. Schools in the enhanced condition are those that sought out additional funding from the Gates Foundation and were willing to dedicate resources and teacher time to the enhanced condition. The sample for the analysis includes 36 enhanced kindergarten classrooms and 92 non-enhanced kindergarten classrooms.