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IES Grant

Title: Validation of the Assessment of Culturally and Contextually Relevant Supports (ACCReS): Supporting Educators of Diverse Students with or at Risk for Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Fallon, Lindsay Awardee: University of Massachusetts, Boston
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (9/1/2017-8/31/2021) Award Amount: $398,722
Type: Training Award Number: R324B170010

Mentors: George Sugai (University of Connecticut); Breda O'Keefe (University of Utah); Takuya Minami

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research to improve teachers' use of evidence-based, culturally and contextually relevant academic and behavioral classroom practices. The PI will also participate in mentoring and training activities to develop expertise in instrument development, psychometric analysis, and the coordination of a multi-year research project. The PI intends to further develop and validate a teacher self-assessment, the Assessment of Culturally and Contextually Relevant Supports (ACCReS). The ACCReS assesses the extent to which educators use evidence-based culturally and contextually relevant academic and behavioral practices, make data-based educational decisions, and have access to training/support systems to promote the use of these practices. Results of the self-assessment can be used to identify professional development needs and strengthen educators' delivery of academic and behavior supports to culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students with or at risk for disabilities in kindergarten through Grade 12. In response to concerns about disproportionate representation of particular racial and ethnic groups in special education, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners have called for the adoption of a culturally responsive multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS). An essential element of this system involves teachers' use of evidence-based academic and behavioral classroom practices that take into account environmental factors and individual differences with regard to students' culture, language, heritage, and experiences. In order to build the capacity of teachers to implement and sustain such practices, tools are needed that assess teachers' current practices and identify areas for improvement.

Research Plan: The PI will further develop and validate the ACCReS over the course of the 4-year project. In Year 1, the PI will establish the instrument's internal reliability and finalize the instrument, test manual, and scoring guide. Specifically, the PI will solicit qualitative feedback on the instrument from a stakeholder panel consisting of elementary, middle, and high school teachers of CLD students with or at risk for disabilities. Feedback will be focused on the instrument's directions, construct definitions, readability, item wording, and missing items. The PI will revise the instrument based on feedback from the panel and a follow-up pilot test will be conducted with a large representative sample of teachers. A confirmatory factor analysis will be conducted using data from the pilot test to establish the measure's construct validity. Lastly, the PI will finalize the instrument, along with the scoring guide (to aid teachers in providing numerical ratings of their own practices) and the test manual (to describe the instrument's technical adequacy and provide actionable steps to improve means or overall scores on each area of the instrument). In Year 2, the PI will establish the instrument's criterion-related validity by examining the extent to which ratings on the ACCReS are correlated with observations of teacher practices and student outcomes (i.e., observations of on-task and disruptive behavior and reading fluency). In Years 3 and 4, the PI will conduct two single-case experimental studies to determine response process validity (i.e., whether teachers understand the ACCReS in the way the researchers intended). The first study will take place in Year 3 and will test whether the completion of the ACCReS by teachers with substantial researcher coaching support leads to significant increases in culturally and contextually relevant teacher practice, improvements in student academic engagement, and decreases in students' disruptive behavior in classes where over 50% of students are CLD. The PI will conduct the second single-case study in Year 4 to extend findings from the Year 3 study and determine whether the same results occur when teachers complete the ACCReS independently, without researcher coaching support.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI intends to develop the following competencies: (1) rigorous instrument development and validation, (2) analyzing data in the context of instrument validation, and (3) the efficient coordination and execution of a multi-year research project. To accomplish these goals, the PI will engage in monthly meetings with mentors, consultation with experts, workshops on measure development and data analysis, and professional conferences.