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IES Grant

Title: Testing the Efficacy of the Academic Language and Literacy in Every Subject (ALLIES) Professional Learning Program
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: O'Hara, Susan Awardee: University of California, Davis
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2017 - 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $3,230,920
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A170316
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Joanne Bookmyer (UC Davis), Jessica Heppen (AIR), and Eleanor Fulbeck (AIR)

Purpose: Meeting the needs of English learners (ELs) in U.S. schools is an urgent focal area for education; however few teachers report feeling prepared to meet the needs of ELs. This proposed study aims to test the efficacy of the Academic Language and Literacy in Every Subject (ALLIES) initiative. This intervention was designed to build mentor and teacher capacity across disciplines to promote ELs academic language and literacy development.

Project Activities: The research team will use a cluster randomized controlled trial with a waitlist control to assess mentor, teacher and student performance both at baseline to establish equivalence and after completion of the intervention to examine the impacts of ALLIES. To assess fidelity of implementation, researchers will administer surveys to mentors and teachers in all treatment schools and collect documentation from all ALLIES professional development sessions. In addition, in a small subsample of schools observations of ALLIES professional development, focus groups with mentors and teachers, audio-recordings of mentor and teacher conversations, and observations of mentor and teacher instruction will be collected. Researchers will also estimate the cost per participant of implementing ALLIES.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of Academic Language and Literacy in Every Subject (ALLIES) initiative for English Learners, and peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are located in an urban center in California.

Sample: Study participants include 80 elementary schools, serving third- through sixth-grade general education students. Schools with at least 60 percent ELs will be targeted for the intervention. Approximately 2 mentors per school (160 mentors total) and approximately 960 third- through sixth-grade teachers and their students (who had been reclassified as English proficient within the previous two years) will participate in the study.

Intervention: ALLIES is a 3-year school-wide intervention that consists of an intensive set of components for mentors. All mentors first participate in an intensive Mentor Institute intended to promote mentors' foundational knowledge in academic language and literacy, distinguish stronger and weaker versions of teaching practices, and facilitate mentor understanding of the underlying components of instructional moves associated with a specific practice. Mentors then spend the subsequent one and a half years receiving ongoing support, professional learning, and feedback on their mentoring practices in the form of three one and a half day Studios, weekly or bi-monthly one-on-one Mentoring Sessions with teachers iterative cycles of teachers trying out new classroom moves, and monthly Mentor Forums with the project team. Finally, the project team works with LEA partners to think about how classrooms, schools, and districts can create the conditions to sustain and spread the instructional practices articulated in the ALLIES essential practice frames.

Research Design and Methods: This research team will use a cluster randomized controlled trial with a waitlist control to assess mentor, teacher and student performance both at baseline to establish equivalence and after completion of the intervention to examine the impacts of ALLIES. Schools will be assigned to treatment and control conditions within blocks based on characteristics including size, prior achievement, and proportion of EL students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

To measure participants' perceptions of implementation and ALLIES generally, researchers will administer a survey to mentors and teachers in all treatment schools and collect documentation from all ALLIES professional development sessions. In addition, researchers will identify a group of 8 case-study schools (taking into account the same school characteristics used to establish random assignment) and collect additional data on implementation through observations of ALLIES professional development, focus groups with mentors and teachers, audio-recordings of mentor and teacher conversations, and observations of mentor and teacher instruction.

Researchers will use the Resource Cost Model (RCM) to estimate the cost per participant of implementing ALLIES based on the specific activities used by agencies to provide services to clients.

Control Condition: In the control condition, mentors and teachers receive business-as-usual professional development opportunities.

Key Measures: Primary measures include Smarter Balanced English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics—and ACCESS for ELs assessment scores as measures of student English proficiency and the Knowledge/Use scale EPF Rubric scores as measures of classroom practice.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use multilevel modeling with students or teachers as the Level 1 unit and schools as the Level 2 unit to compare end-of-year SBAC test scores of EL students, and pre-post ACCESS for ELs assessment scores, in treatment schools compared to EL students in comparison schools. Researchers will estimate the effectiveness of mentors and classroom teachers separately.


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