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IES Grant

Title: Teaching Together: A Multimedia School-Home Intervention for Young Children At-Risk for Academic Difficulties
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Zucker, Tricia Awardee: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2015-6/30/2018) Award Amount: $1,500,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A150319

Co-Principal Investigators: Sonia Cabell (University of Virginia) Maria Carlo (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston), Jamie DeCoster (University of Virginia), and Susan Landry (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop Teaching Together, a curriculum that will provide targeted (Tier 2) language and literacy instruction to preschoolers who are not responding to universal Tier 1 instruction. The Tier 2 intervention builds on an existing, Tier 1 language and literacy supplementary curriculum, Read It Again-PreK!, which has been evaluated in IES funded studies. Children’s language and literacy skills are related to later reading achievement and success in school. Existing intervention models have primarily focused on developing and implementing universal, core curricula to improve preschoolers’ language and literacy skills, but some of these interventions are not effective for students who begin preschool with very low literacy skills. Differentiated instruction that provides individualized levels of increasing support based on children’s assessed needs is one way to address the needs of a subgroup of children with very weak language and literacy skills. The proposed project seeks to address these problems by augmenting an evidence-based, Tier 1 curriculum with an aligned Tier 2 curriculum that includes school and home learning activities.

Project Activities: Researchers will develop a supplementary curriculum to provide targeted language and literacy instruction and support to preschool children. The research team will also develop curricular content, home-based activities and a consultation model for teachers and parents. Researchers will conduct field tests to examine the usability and feasibility of the intervention, and conduct a pilot study to evaluate the effects of the intervention on teacher and parent practices and child outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed Tier 2 intervention for preschool children. Researchers will also produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in preschool classrooms in Texas and Virginia.

Sample: Initial development will occur with 10 teachers in years 1 and 2 of the project. Twenty teachers will participate in the year 3 pilot study. Researchers will recruit a subsample of children (60 each year in years 1 and 2; 120 in year 3) to participate in the study. Parents of selected at-risk children will also participate in the study, including 12 parents for the development phase of the project in years 1 and 2 and 60 parents for the year 3 pilot study.

Intervention: The Teaching Together intervention will include four key components: (a) use of existing screening/progress monitoring measures; (b) the instruction for all children in Read It Again! (RIA!) curriculum, the supplementary language and literacy curriculum (Tier 1 instruction); (c) targeted, small group instruction with identified at-risk students (Tier 2-to be developed); and (d) aligned home language and literacy activities (Tier 2-to be developed). RIA Together! classroom curriculum materials will include a manual, 60 small-group lessons, 12 books, and the RIA mobile application (app) with a video library. The parent kit will include a user manual, a calendar, home activities and materials, 6 books, and the RIA mobile app with video library. The RIA Together! Consultancy model will include a manual, 8 teacher virtual consultation sessions and six parent virtual consultation sessions.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will develop, refine, implement, and evaluate the promise of the intervention over a three-year period. In Year 1, the research team will develop the Tier 2 curriculum components, conduct focus groups and interviews to get input from teachers and parents, and revise the intervention materials. Researchers will conduct an initial field test and make additional revisions to the curriculum materials. In Year 2, the research team will develop implementation supports for teachers and parents, including teacher trainings, consultation models for teachers and parents, and RIA! app. Researchers will conduct field tests to get feedback from parents and teachers about the training materials, the consultation models, and the mobile app. The researchers will make final revisions to the intervention components in preparation for the pilot study. In Year 3, the researchers will conduct a pilot study of all Tier 1 and Tier 2 components, conduct analyses to evaluate the promise of the intervention, and disseminate the study findings.

Control Condition: Teachers randomly assigned to the control condition will engage in standard practices using a state-approved preschool curriculum without supplemental materials.

Key Measures: Primary measures include direct assessments of children and observational tools. The Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation-PreK Tool (ELLCO-Pre-K) will be used to assess the quality of teachers' instruction. Four scales from the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory (HOME) will be used to assess parents' instructional supports within the home. The Systematic Assessment of Book Reading measure will be used to code videotaped shared book reading sessions at school and at home. Tasks from the CIRCLE Phonological Awareness Language and Literacy System (C-PALLS) will be used as a screener for all children. Progress monitoring and outcomes measures will be used to assess children's language and literacy skills. Child outcome measures include three subtests of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Preschool:2 (CELF-P: 2), the Spanish version of the CELF (CELF-P: 2 Spanish), the Narrative Assessment Protocol (NAP), two subtests of the Test of Preschool Early Literacy (TOPEL), and the Preschool Comprehensive Test of Phonological and Print Processing (Pre-CTOPP) for Spanish dominant children.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data analyses will include qualitative and quantitative techniques. In Years 1–2, qualitative data will be collected through field notes, focus groups, interview data, and open-ended survey questions. Researchers will code data to summarize themes and draw conclusions. In Years 1–2, the research team will analyze quantitative data from the field tests. In Year 3, researchers will use multilevel models to evaluate the effects of the intervention on teacher, parent, and child outcomes.

Related IES Projects: Efficacy of Read It Again! In Rural Preschool Settings (R305A080459); Read It Again! In Early Childhood Special Education (R324A130066); Read It Again—Mobile: Technology-Supported Language & Literacy Intervention for Preschoolers At-Risk (R305A150274)