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IES Grant

Title: Investigating the Efficacy of a Web-Based Early Reading Intervention Professional Development Program for K-1 English Learners
Center: NCER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Amendum, Steven Awardee: University of Delaware
Program: English Learners      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2021) Award Amount: $3,299,115
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A160255

Purpose: Large numbers of children in United States schools struggle with reading, including a disproportionate number of English learners (ELs). The Targeted Reading Intervention (TRI) is an instructional intervention and professional development program for early reading, designed to help classroom teachers acquire key diagnostic strategies for use with young, struggling readers. The purpose of this study is to determine TRI's efficacy for young ELs, specifically. Previous efficacy studies (R305A040056; R305A100654) have found that teachers are able to adapt their teaching practices to implement TRI, and that TRI shows positive effects on student reading gains for struggling and non-struggling readers. It is possible, however, that, as second language learners, ELs may face different reading challenges and require different instructional supports as a result. If TRI is also effective for ELs, this result would amplify its potential utility as an intervention for more wide-spread adoption.

Project Activities: Researchers will use a mixed-methods multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) in which classroom teachers are randomly assigned to participate in TRI, and eligible students are randomly assigned to receive TRI instruction first, second, or third. In Years 1–3, the research team will implement TRI in 24 schools and collect data about both teacher and student performance, as well as fidelity of TRI implementation. In Years 4–5, the researchers will conduct analyses to explore whether TRI led to better teacher practices and outcomes, or better reading gains for ELs, compared to gains for ELs whose teachers did not participate in TRI.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence about the effects and efficacy of TRI for young ELs, as well as further evidence for TRI's effects on teacher practices. The researchers will produce peer-reviewed publications and reports to disseminate their findings.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place at 24 elementary schools in Delaware and North Carolina.

Sample: Participants are kindergarten and first-grade classroom teachers (n = 144) and their students who are English learners (n = 432) from schools in Delaware and North Carolina. Schools are selected if (1) they have a population in which at least 10% of students are ELs; (2) they have kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms with at least three EL students each; and (3) administrators and a majority of kindergarten and first teachers are interested in participating.

Intervention: The TRI uses technology to connect classroom teachers with certified TRI literacy coaches for daily collaboration and consultation about instruction. In this model, the TRI Coach, via a laptop and webcam, supports the classroom teacher in delivering diagnostically driven reading instruction to students in one-on-one sessions. These sessions take place in the classroom while other students are engaging in their own independent or small-group reading activities. The content of this instruction focuses on word- and text-level reading exercises that are tailored to the student's current most pressing need, as identified by the coach and classroom teacher. For this efficacy study, coaches will emphasize specific strategies within the TRI framework that are likely to be most beneficial for ELs based on their specific needs as second language learners. In addition to one-on-one sessions, a collaborative professional learning team is established within each school that includes the kindergarten and first grade teachers and the TRI Coach. This team meets weekly or biweekly to discuss individual children and receives periodic web-based professional development.

Research Design and Methods: In the first three years of this study, researchers will implement TRI at a total of 24 schools in North Carolina and Delaware and collect data about both teacher and student performance. Within each school, researchers will randomly assign teachers to control or treatment conditions, and students to receive the TRI intervention first, second, or third. Teachers who participate in the TRI intervention will participate in annual training institutes to learn TRI, and interact with TRI literacy coaches in one-on-one settings on a weekly basis throughout the school year. Treatment teachers will also participate together in weekly or biweekly meetings to discuss their progress and receive professional development. In Years 4-5, using the data collected in Years 1–3, the researchers will focus on conducting analyses to compare the teacher and student outcomes from the treatment and control groups across all schools. They will focus on (1) whether TRI led to better teacher practices and outcomes, as measured by surveys, questionnaires, and instructional observations, and (2) whether TRI led to better reading gains for ELs, as measured by two extant reading assessments (DIBELS Next and MAP for Primary Grades), compared to gains for ELs whose teachers did not participate in TRI.

Control Condition: Teachers in the control condition will provide a business as usual control setting, allowing for estimation of the added value of TRI over and above current instructional practice for ELs. Control group teachers will receive TRI training after the completion of data collection. In addition, the research team will ask control teachers about their participation in professional development activities, changes in teaching practices, and acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Key Measures: The team will measure students' reading and literacy using the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for Primary Grades, and the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills (DIBELS Next) assessment. They will also use student scores from the state's English language proficiency (ELP) assessment, ACCESS for ELLs, to indicate students' proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in English. Researchers will use survey questions from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten (ECLS-K) to measure teacher literacy practices, and the Piasta and Connor Teacher Knowledge Survey (TKS) to measure teachers' foundational knowledge of reading. The Student-Teacher Relationship School (STRS) will provide measures of how close teachers feel to their students.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to assess the impacts of TRI on teachers' content knowledge and instructional match. They will use hierarchical linear models to estimate the impact of intervention on (a) the reading performance of English learners and, (b) classwide reading performance. Also, to explore whether impacts of TRI are mediated by changes in teacher knowledge and instructional match, researchers will use multilevel structural equation modeling (MSEM) to explore mediated causal pathways.

Related IES Projects: National Research Center on Rural Education Support (R305A040056), The Targeted Reading Intervention: A Web-Based Professional Development Program Targeting K-1 Classroom Teachers and Their Struggling Readers (R305A100654)