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IES Grant

Title: Project DATA for RTI: Developing Adept Teams for Advancing RTI
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Alonzo, Julie Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (8/1/2016-7/31/2020) Award Amount: $1,499,785
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A160032

Co-Principal Investigator: Gerald Tindal

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop an individualized web-based professional development (PD) program to support teachers' effective implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) and improve student outcomes. Effective implementation of RTI requires ongoing evaluation of the relation between implementation of interventions and change on student measures over time in order to determine whether interventions are successful or in need of modification to improve outcomes for students with or at risk for disabilities or who are at risk of failure. Yet many RTI models are implemented with little attention to the fidelity or effectiveness of the processes by which progress is measured, instruction developed, or decisions made. The current project will develop a web-based PD system that improves the use of RTI to improve student learning by enhancing teachers' ability to make sound decisions based on their students' progress data.

Project Activities: This project will use an iterative process to develop an online PD system to improve teachers' RTI implementation and student reading skills. Data on teachers' RTI knowledge and practice, teacher PD use, field-based observations of classrooms and data teams, and information on the usability and feasibility of PD modules will be used in the development process to guide revisions. The research team will conduct a randomized controlled trial to document the feasibility and potential efficacy of the intervention for improving teachers' RTI implementation and, ultimately, student reading skills.

Products: The products of this project will include a fully developed PD system that improves teacher RTI knowledge and practice and student reading skills, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will primarily take place in elementary schools in Oregon and Washington. Additional teachers in states across the U.S. will participate in field testing a measure in Year 1.

Sample: Five experienced elementary teachers will be chosen for a Lead Development Team to provide consultation for the first 2 years of the project. One hundred third- through fifth-grade teachers from districts across the U.S. will be recruited to field test a measure of RTI practice and knowledge. For the development and pilot testing of the intervention, 9–12 schools, 60–80 teachers, and 1,500–2,000 of their students will participate.

Intervention: The project will result in an online professional development program that is integrated within the widely-used easyCBM assessment system and provides teachers with training on sufficient student screening and progress measurement, developing instructionally adequate programs, and making data-based decisions for instructional change. The PD program will include 14 training modules focused on three key components of RTI identified in the literature: (1) measurement sufficiency (i.e., the type of measure being used, the grade level of measures, and the frequency of measurement), (2) instructional adequacy (i.e., tier, amount of time, grouping arrangement, curriculum materials and supplements, teaching strategies, social environments, and independent practice), and (3) data-based decision making (i.e., interpreting progress-monitoring data to prompt changes in instruction relative to the level, variability, and amount of improvement in student performance). Each module will include a pre-test, instruction (easyCBM's illustrations of research-based best practices), and a post-test of proficiency.

Research Design and Methods: In Years 1–2, the research team will work closely with a Lead Development Team of five experienced teachers to iteratively develop and refine the PD modules and three measures of RTI practice (i.e., teacher survey of RTI knowledge and practice, observational protocol of teacher RTI implementation, and teacher usability and feasibility survey). In Year 1, the Lead Development Team will review initial drafts of PD modules and measures and provide feedback. Measures will also be field tested online by teachers across the U.S. and data will be used to establish initial technical adequacy and to inform further refinement. In Years 2–3, the research team will gather data on feasibility and usability of the PD modules through an iterative process of implementation and comparisons, as well as consultation with the Lead Development Team. More specifically, in Year 2, the research team will compare Standard PD (teachers will complete all 14 modules in numerical order at their own pace over the school year) to a business-as-usual control condition. In Year 3, Standard PD will be compared to Individualized PD (teachers will be prompted to complete one or more of the 14 PD modules throughout the year based on teacher data management/use and student reading data) and Standard + Individualized PD (2 years of PD in which teachers will complete all modules in their first year and receive prompts to review specific topics only when interactions with the easyCBM indicate it may be helpful in their second year). To obtain these groups, teachers from the Year 2 control condition will receive Standard PD, teachers from the Year 2 Standard PD condition will receive a second year with Individualized PD (Standard + Individualized PD condition), and a new group will receive Individualized PD. The intervention indicating the best performance during this iterative stage of development will be evaluated in a larger pilot study in Year 4. The research team will conduct a randomized controlled trial, with randomization at the school level, to test the feasibility and promise of the intervention for improving teachers' RTI implementation and student reading skills. Data on teachers and students will be collected in the fall and spring of each year.

Control Condition: In Years 2 and 4, control group teachers will participate in business-as-usual RTI assessment systems within their school. In Year 3, comparisons will be made among the various iterations of the intervention, with none serving as a pure control group.

Key Measures: The research team will develop and field test measures of teacher RTI knowledge and practice, teacher assessment and instruction-related practices associated with RTI implementation, and PD module usability and feasibility. Data on teacher use (e.g., time on website, number of modules completed, time taken to complete each module, scores on pre- and post-proficiency tests, etc.) will be collected automatically from the online delivery system and used to assess the extent to which PD is being delivered as it was designed. Student reading outcomes will be assessed by measures of reading automatically collected through the easyCBM assessment system, including passage reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will analyze the internal consistency of the teacher test of RTI knowledge and practice, bivariate correlations between test items, and construct validity using exploratory factor analysis. Feedback forms completed by the Lead Development Team on initial PD modules will be qualitatively coded to identify recurring patterns and themes for further refinement of the PD program. The team will use Item Response Theory to analyze feedback collected from the module-specific usability and feasibility surveys. Multilevel growth models (with time nested within teacher, and teacher nested within condition) will be used to evaluate the effects of the PD program on teacher RTI knowledge and practice and RTI implementation. Latent growth curve modeling will be used to analyze the effect of the PD program on student growth in reading skills. The research team will examine effects for all students and test whether the impact varies for students with disabilities.