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IES Grant

Title: An Investigation of Direct Instruction Spoken English for At-Risk English Learners
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Gunn, Barbara Awardee: Oregon Research Institute
Program: Policies, Practices, and Programs to Support English Learners      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/20156/30/2019) Award Amount: $3,447,327
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A150325

Purpose: This project will evaluate the efficacy of the Direct Instruction Spoken English (DISE) program, a program currently in use in 25 states to teach oral language skills to adolescent ELLs. Findings from this study will provide rigorous evidence for educators as they select programs to help middle school English language learners (ELLs) acquire proficiency in oral English. Studies will estimate the effects of DISE for all students, explore the program components related to improvement in oral language, and examine differential response to DISE by students with different characteristics.

Project Activities: The research team will study the effects of the DISE program on the English oral language skills of ELLs when implemented in schools for a two-year period. Researchers will study the impact of DISE using a design in which schools are randomly assigned to use DISE or their existing English language acquisition program during English as a Second Language instruction. The DISE program seeks to improve oral language through a focus on explicit instruction in vocabulary, syntax, pronunciation, and morphology with an emphasis on corrective feedback and review. Independent and repeated practice of new skills is a central component of the program.

Products: The products of this project include evidence of the efficacy of the DISE program as an intervention for middle-school ELLs and peer-reviewed publications. Researchers will also share findings at conferences for teachers and administrators and through social media.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in 50 middle schools in Texas and Washington.

Sample: Approximately 500 ELLs in 6th and 7th grades who have been identified at the beginning, early intermediate, or intermediate level of English proficiency will participate in the study.

Intervention: DISE uses a systematic approach and specific linguistic content to develop a functional mastery of oral English language, and builds on student background knowledge in their native language through use of images. Instruction occurs for 90 minutes each day in an ESL class throughout the school year and includes explicit practice and review in vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax, and morphology. DISE teaches oral language through explicit instruction in vocabulary accompanied by images that prompt students to think about social and academic areas relevant to their own lives. Providing corrective feedback followed by opportunities to practice new skills is a key component of DISE.

Research Design and Methods: The study will use a cluster randomized design. Schools in the study will be divided in two cohorts, with 20 schools participating in the first 2 years of the grant and 30 schools participating in years 3 and 4. Teachers in schools assigned to the DISE condition will receive training at the beginning of their participation in DISE and follow-up coaching throughout the study. Fidelity of implementation will be assessed in two ways. First, DISE coaches will observe teachers twice each year. Second, the research team will code audio tapes obtained 3 times each year in both treatment and control classrooms using the Classroom Observations of Student-Teacher Interactions (COSTI) protocol. COSTI assesses the quality of instructional delivery through documentation of rates of teacher demonstrations, opportunities for independent practice, and corrective feedback. Teachers in both treatment and control classrooms will complete a biweekly implementation log to provide dosage information by gathering information on curricular activities, number of lessons completed, number of days of instruction, and any special considerations that affected instruction. Researchers will assess students on nonverbal ability and academic language in English at the beginning of the study to provide information on baseline skills. The research team will assess student oral language skills using DISE progress monitoring assessments 3 times each year. Researchers will gather standardized measures of oral language and academic knowledge in the spring of each year for each cohort and one year following completion of the study for the first cohort. Researchers will perform an analysis of direct, indirect, and opportunity costs of DISE and estimate both present and future costs of the program.

Control Condition: Schools randomly assigned to the control condition will provide business as usual English language instruction, without DISE.

Key Measures: Student measures include Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices, the Language Assessment Scale (LAS), and the oral language cluster and academic knowledge cluster of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement Test.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use a mixed-model analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to evaluate the effect of DISE and to explore mediating and moderating effects.