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IES Grant

Title: Examining the Efficacy of Differential Levels of Professional Development for Teaching Content Area Reading Strategies
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Swanson, Elizabeth Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/15-6/30/19) Award Amount: $3,500,000
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A150407

Co-Principal Investigators: Sharon Vaughn (University of Texas at Austin), Gregory Roberts (University of Texas at Austin), and Deborah Simmons (Texas A&M University)

Purpose: This study is designed to determine the effects of professional development on social studies teachers' application of evidence-based practices in classrooms and students' reading comprehension, vocabulary, and content knowledge outcomes. As these skills are part of the Common Core State Standards, the results of this study will help to illustrate the utility of an intervention that is intended to improve skills that are part of the curricula of many states across the country. If, as found in a previous IES grant (Enhancing the Quality of Expository Text Instruction through Content and Case-Situated Professional Development), the results support the intervention, then the intervention will be one step closer to being ready for a larger scale-up study. The study also has as an objective the examination of the effects of different professional development delivery models (i.e. researcher-delivered and school-district delivered) on instructional quality and student outcomes.

Project Activities: The research team will recruit 27 elementary schools for the study. Schools will be randomly assigned to receive the intervention from the research team, to receive the intervention from trained school personnel, or to conduct business as usual. For the second condition, the researchers will train the school personnel on the delivery of the intervention. Initial data will be collected from the students and then the intervention will begin. Student data and fidelity data will be gathered while the intervention is in progress, and a final round of data collection will occur within 2 weeks of the end of the intervention. The same process will be used for a new set of 27 elementary schools in Year 2 and again in Year 3. In the final year of the project, the researchers will conduct the analyses and work to publish the results.

Products: This project will provide evidence on the efficacy of an 18-week case-based professional development model addressing how research-based practices work in context to improve the quality of teachers' instruction and students' reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and content knowledge. Researchers will also produce peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in 4th-grade classrooms in elementary schools from nine different suburban or rural school districts in the state of Texas, with varying degrees of ethnic and economic diversity in the student populations.

Sample: Over the 3 years of the study, the participants include 81 schools, 405 teachers, and 4,050 fourth-grade students.

Intervention: The intervention is a professional development for social studies teachers designed to improve students' comprehension and content acquisition. Incorporating the empirically based Strategies for Reading Information and Vocabulary Effectively (STRIVE) approach developed by the researchers, the intervention involves the gradual release of lesson planning and concept selection responsibilities to support teacher learning and implementation. The intervention also features collaborative interaction and reflection on instructional practices through school-based study teams.

Research Design and Methods: This study uses a cluster randomized trial to compare two approaches to delivering the professional development to each other and to a business-as-usual group. Schools will be randomly assigned to receive researcher-delivered STRIVE professional development, school-delivered STRIVE professional development, or no intervention. The intervention will last 18 weeks, with primary measures being administered 2–3 weeks before the intervention, multiple times during the intervention period, and not more than 2 weeks after the intervention ends. This procedure will be used with a different cohort of fourth-grade students in each of 3 successive years.

Control Condition: One of the groups to which participants will be randomly assigned will be a business-as-usual group.

Key Measures: Researchers will administer the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test—4th edition to students to measure overall reading, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. In addition, researchers will also administer to students the Curriculum-Based Measurement in the Content Areas—Vocabulary Matching to measure content knowledge and vocabulary. Teacher measures will include direct observations and indicators of teacher quality and fidelity of implementation.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will address the research questions using multilevel multi-group structural equation modeling. The researchers will use different models across questions, depending on whether the analysis is of the main effect of treatment, a mediation model, etc... depending on the specific question being addressed (i.e., main effect of treatment, mediation, etc.).

Related IES Projects: Enhancing the Quality of Expository Text Instruction through Content and Case-Situated Professional Development (R305M050121)

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Capin, P., Walker, M A., Vaughn, S., and Wanzek, J. (2017). Examining How Treatment Fidelity Is Supported, Measured, and Reported in K–3 Reading Intervention Research. Educational Psychology Review, 1–35.

Swanson, E. (2015). Infusing the Social Studies with Literacy Practices to Improve Outcomes for Students with Learning Disabilities. Journal of Childhood & Developmental Disorders, 1(1).

Swanson, E., Stevens, E.A., Scammacca, N. K., Capin, P., Stewart, A.A., and Austin, C.R. (2017). The Impact of Tier 1 Reading Instruction on Reading Outcomes for Students in Grades 4–12: A Meta–Analysis. Reading and Writing, 30(8), 1639–1665.

Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., and Wexler, J. (2017). Enhancing Adolescents' Comprehension of Text by Building Vocabulary Knowledge. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 50(2), 84–94.