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IES Grant

Title: Development of a Tiered Coaching Model to Support the Professional Development of Inclusive Early Childhood Educators
Center: NCSER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Fettig, Angel Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2017 – 08/31/2020) Award Amount: $1,366,853
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A170149

Previous Award Number: R324A170019
Previous Awardee: University of Massachusetts, Boston

Co-Principal Investigator: Kathleen Meeker (University of Washington)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop a tiered coaching model with a decision-making framework to guide coaches in determining the level of support teachers need. This decision-making framework will enable instructional coaches to match their feedback to the type and amount of support that preschool teachers need during different activities, with different children, and across different points in their careers. While professional development and coaching have become a common approach in increasing teachers' fidelity in implementing evidence-based practices, there is clear evidence of differential effects based on teachers' engagement with and participation in coaching. The process of making coaching decisions (e.g., delivery, dosage) has yet to be investigated systematically in the field of early childhood special education. There is a critical need for coaching interventions that incorporate teachers' needs, experiences, satisfaction, and professional commitment into professional development decisions. The research team will develop and pilot test a tiered coaching model that allows coaches to work with teachers in identifying a matched coaching approach to support teachers as they implement evidence-based practices.

Project Activities: In the first year of this project, a data-driven decision-making framework will be developed to guide coaches in selecting and implementing professional development and coaching that is matched to teacher profiles with profiles based on such factors as teacher need, experience, job satisfaction, and professional commitment. Development and field testing of the tiered coaching model will be conducted in the second year using a mixed methods design. In the final year of the project, a quasi-experimental design study will be conducted to evaluate the feasibility, usability, and promise of efficacy of the tiered coaching model for supporting teachers in including children with disabilities in their classrooms.

Products: The products of this project will include a fully developed tiered coaching model for supporting teachers in including children with disabilities in their classrooms, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in inclusive preschool classrooms in Washington State.

Sample: Teachers in inclusive preschool classrooms and preschool children (ages 3–5 years) with identified disabilities will participate in this study. In Year 1, 100 inclusive preschool teachers will provide data to inform the development of the decision-making model related to professional development to create teacher coaching profiles. In Year 2, 18 teachers will participate in the field tests to support the iterative development and refinement of the tiered coaching model. In Year 3, 40 inclusive preschool classroom teachers will participate in the pilot study. Within each classroom, there will be one target child with an IEP participating, resulting in a total of 40 children.

Intervention: All participating teachers will receive a 1-day universal professional development workshop on the evidence-based practices targeted for this study through use of the Pyramid Model (a well-researched model that specifies evidence-based teaching strategies to support preschool children's social and emotional development at the universal, targeted, and individual levels). The intervention will be the data-driven decision-making tiered coaching model (TCM), which consists of three tiers: Email newsletter and check-in for all teachers (Tier 1), small group coaching communities for a subset of teachers (Tier 2), and individualized intensive coaching support for those who need intensive one-on-one coaching (Tier 3). The TCM will include the data-driven decision-making process that guides coaches in determining who participates in the different tiers of coaching.

Research Design and Methods: During the first 2 years of the project, the investigators will engage in iterative development and refinement of the intervention. In Year 1, a data-driven decision-making framework related to professional development and teacher coaching profiles will be created using field observations in early childhood education classrooms and teacher surveys. In Year 2, development and field testing of the tiered coaching model will be conducted using a mixed methods design including classroom observations to measure implementation of the Pyramid Model, brief teacher interviews, and a teacher focus group. In Year 3, a quasi-experimental design study will be conducted to assess the feasibility and promise of the tiered coaching model for supporting teachers in including children with disabilities in their classrooms, with the goal of increasing teacher fidelity of the evidence-based practices in the Pyramid Model and improving socio-emotional skills of students. In this phase, pairwise matching will be used to create equivalent intervention and control groups.

Control Condition: For the pilot study, teachers in the control group will continue to implement business-as-usual instructional practices utilized in the school district. In addition, the teachers in the control group will attend a 1-day universal professional development workshop on the evidence-based practices targeted in this study (i.e., Pyramid Model), but they will not participate in coaching.

Key Measures: Teacher/classroom outcome measures in this study include the Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT) to measure Pyramid Model implementation and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System to measure more global classroom quality. The researcher-developed teacher coaching profile assessment, used to guide selection of professional development and coaching, is comprised of three teacher-reported measures—a teacher survey of professional background and experiences, a rating scale on professional development preferences and job attitude, and a rating scale of school or program characteristics (e.g., conditions and resources that promote change)—as well as the TPOT observations. Child outcome measures in this study include the Social Skills Improvement System Performance Screening Guide, Child Behavior Checklist-Preschool, direct observation of social skills and problem behavior, and child and family demographic information.

Data Analytic Strategy: Latent profile analysis will be conducted to identify the coaching profiles. In the second phase, the investigators will analyze the teacher profile and TPOT scores longitudinally for overall trend. Qualitative analyses of the focus group data as well as interviews with teachers and coaches will be summarized and used to guide the formative development process. To compare groups on outcome measures in the pilot study, the investigators will estimate unbiased treatment effect sizes, both pre-post treatment and between groups.

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