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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of the TELL Curriculum for Preschool Children who are Economically Disadvantaged
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Gray, Shelley Awardee: Arizona State University
Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2017-06/30/2021) Award Amount: $3,288,658
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A170068

Co-Principal Investigators: M. Jeanne Wilcox, Scott C. Marley, and Mark Reiser

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine whether preschool children from low-income families enrolled in classrooms implementing the Teaching Early Literacy and Language across the Curriculum (TELL) curriculum demonstrate higher oral language, pre-reading, and prewriting scores at the end of preschool than their peers enrolled in business-as-usual classrooms. TELL is a universal, Tier 1, whole-class curriculum designed to improve school readiness. Results from development and efficacy studies with children who had developmental speech and/or language impairments showed that enrollment in TELL classrooms resulted in significantly higher oral language and early literacy test scores at the end of preschool than enrollment in control classrooms. In this project, the researchers will conduct an efficacy replication trial of the TELL curriculum with a sample of typically developing children from economically-disadvantaged families.

Project Activities: The researchers will conduct a replication study to investigate the effects of TELL on the language and literacy skills of typically developing children. They will recruit and randomly assign 60 preschool teachers to treatment and control conditions. Teachers will receive initial training and coaching to implement the intervention. The researchers will collect data from parents and teachers, conduct classroom observations, and assess three cohorts of children to evaluate impacts of the intervention on child outcomes. They will also conduct a cost study.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of the TELL intervention to improve typically developing preschool children's oral language, pre-reading, and pre-writing scores, and produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in public preschool programs operated by school districts in the Phoenix metropolitan area that serve children from low socioeconomic status backgrounds, including community and Head Start preschool programs.

Sample: Study participants include 60 preschool teachers and 480 racially and ethnically diverse children from low-income backgrounds.

Intervention: The Teaching Emergent Literacy and Language across the Curriculum (TELL) intervention is a universal, Tier 1, whole-class curriculum that was developed in an IES-funded Development study. TELL is designed to improve school readiness in oral language, pre-reading, and pre-writing. The curriculum package includes materials, scope and sequence, activities, and lesson plans. The package also includes professional development (coaching, professional learning communities, and formal training) to promote high fidelity of implementation. TELL includes 32 weeks of instruction during the school. There are 14 thematic units, each two weeks in length. Review weeks occur every fifth week. Prior to the review week, curriculum-based measures are administered to measure children's progress on unit objectives.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will conduct this study over a four year period. They will use a three cohort design to conduct a cluster randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy TELL. Each cohort includes teacher training and coaching to implement TELL, parent questionnaires, direct assessments of children and fidelity of implementation data collection. In each of the first three years of the project, the researchers will recruit 20 lead teachers/classrooms to participate in the study for a total of 60 teachers/classrooms. The research team will randomly assign teachers/classrooms to treatment and control conditions (30 treatment and 30 control). They will administer the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-2 and the Structured Photographic Expressive Language Test-3 to identify eligible children with typical language and cognitive development. From the sample of eligible children, they will randomly select eight children per classroom for child assessments. For each cohort (years 1-3), child outcome measures will be administered to participating children at the beginning and end of the preschool year. They will also conduct a cost study. In year 4, the researchers will conduct analyses to evaluate the efficacy of TELL and disseminate the findings.

Control Condition: Classrooms in the business as usual condition used a variety of instructional approaches. Some classrooms use a comprehensive curriculum that has language and literacy teaching components and other classrooms use "home grown" curriculum that is mapped to the state early learning standards.

Key Measures: Primary measures include standardized direct child assessments of children's early language and literacy skills, measures of fidelity of implementation fidelity (adherence and dosage) and the classroom language environment, and teacher questionnaires. Direct assessments will include subtests of the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, Woodcock Johnson-IV Tests of Early Cognitive and Academic Development, Test of Narrative Retell-Preschool, Preschool Early Literacy Indicators, and TELL curriculum-based measures. Classroom observation measures include the Classroom Assessment Scoring Systems and the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation-Revised.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use hierarchical linear modeling to analyze the data. They will conduct multilevel analyses to evaluate the impact of the TELL curriculum on typically developing children's language and literacy skills during pre-kindergarten.

Related IES Projects:
The Development and Efficacy of a Curriculum-Based Language and Early Literacy Intervention for Preschool Children with Developmental Disabilities (R324E060023)
Efficacy Trials with a New Early Literacy and Language Curriculum for Preschool Children with Developmental Speech and/or Language Impairment (R324A110048)