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IES Grant

Title: Preventing School Dropout with Secondary Students: The Implementation of an Individualized Reading Intervention and Dropout Prevention Intervention
Center: NCSER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Roberts, Greg Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (3/1/2010 2/28/2014) Award Amount: $2,017,289
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A100022

Co-Principal Investigator: Sharon Vaughn

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of an individualized reading intervention (Reading Interventions for Adolescents; RIA) and a dropout prevention intervention (Check & Connect; C&C) separately and combined for secondary students with reading difficulties who are also at risk for dropping out of school. Despite improved knowledge about effective reading interventions for students in the younger grades, much less is known regarding effective interventions and reading instruction for students with reading difficulties in middle and high school. In addition to the need for effective reading interventions, it is also critical to intervene with students at risk for school dropout, including struggling adolescent readers and English language learners (ELL). The current study will address this need by testing the efficacy of RIA and C&C) separately and combined for improving reading achievement and graduation rates for struggling readers in high school, including ELL students.

Project Activities: The efficacy of interventions designed to improve reading achievement and persistence in high school for at-risk students will be tested in two studies. In Study 1, 9th and 10th grade students will be randomly assigned to one of four conditions — RIA only, C&C only, RIA plus C&C, or a business-as-usual (BAU) comparison condition. The interventions will be implemented over the course of 2 years and student outcomes will be assessed over the following 2 years into 11th and 12th grades. Study 2 will replicate Study 1, but in a sample with a higher proportion of ELL students.

Products: The products of this project will include publications and presentations on the efficacy of RIA and C&C, both individually and in combination, for increasing reading achievement and graduation rates among struggling adolescent readers who are also at risk for dropping out of school.


Setting: The research will take place in three low-income high schools in the metropolitan area of Austin, Texas.

Sample: Approximately 570 students with identified reading difficulties at risk for dropping out of school will participate in the study.

Intervention: Reading Interventions for Adolescents (RIA) is designed to incorporate explicit, individualized instruction in scientifically-based components of a reading intervention with special emphasis in improving access to social studies and science text. The dropout prevention program, (Check & Connect( (C&C), is a widely-used program designed to enhance and maintain students' engagement with school. Trained monitors work with students daily to provide individualized and timely support designed to increase motivation and engagement.

Research Design and Methods: In Study 1, students in 9th and 10th grade will be randomly assigned to one of the four conditions — RIA only, C&C only, RIA plus C&C, or control. The interventions will be provided for 2 years and outcome measures will be collected in during students' 11th and 12th grade years. In Study 2, the previous study will be replicated in a sample with a higher proportion of ELL students. Information on the fidelity of implementation will also be assessed for RIA and C&C.

Control Condition: Students in the control condition will receive business-as-usual reading instruction and dropout prevention services.

Key Measures: Measures of key outcomes of reading, language, and engagement include the Test of Word Reading Efficiency, Gates MacGinitie Reading Test, Woodcock Johnson III Spelling Subtest, Student Engagement Instrument, and Inventory of Callous Unemotional Traits. Progress monitoring measures will be used throughout the year, including the AIMSweb Maze Curriculum-Based Measure, AIMSweb Reading Curriculum-Based Measure, and the Test of Silent Reading Fluency. Potential moderating measures will include the Woodcock Munoz Language Survey, Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory, and Perception of Ability Scale for Students.

Data Analytic Strategy: Growth modeling will be used to estimate the effects of RIA on reading outcomes. Discrete time survival analysis will be used to estimate the proportional odds of dropping out and any differences due to C&C. To examine the effect of the combined intervention, a series of mixture models will be estimated and compared across the four intervention conditions. Analyses will also examine whether student characteristics (e.g., initial reading performance, primary language, demographic factors, and motivation) influence the strength of the relation between the interventions and student outcomes.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Beaver, K.M., Wright, J.P., DeLisi, M., and Vaughn, M.G. (2012). Dopaminergic Polymorphisms and Educational Achievement: Results From a Longitudinal Sample of Americans. Developmental Psychology, 48(4): 932–938. doi:10.1037/a0026313

Blachman, B., Schatschneider, C., Fletcher, J.M., Murray, M.S., Munger, K.A., and Vaughn, M.G. (2014). Intensive Reading Remediation in Grade 2 or 3: Are There Effects a Decade Later?. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1): 46–57. doi:10.1037/a0033663

Fall, A.M., and Roberts, G. (2012). High School Dropouts: Interactions Between Social Context, Self-Perceptions, School Engagement, and Student Dropout. Journal of Adolescence, 35(4): 787–798. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.11.004

Fall, A.M., and Roberts, G. (in press). Teacher Support and School Engagement: Modeling Reciprocal Relations. Learning and Individual Differences.

Huang, J., Peters, K.E., Vaughn, M.G., and Witko, C.M. (2014). Breastfeeding and Trajectories of Cognitive Development. Developmental Science, 17(3): 452–461 . doi:10.1111/desc.12136

Kremer, K.P., Maynard, B.R., Polanin, J.R., Vaughn, M.G., and Sarteschi, C. (2015). Effects of After-School Programs With At-Risk Youth on Attendance and Externalizing Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(3): 616–636. doi:10.1007/s10964–014–0226–4

Maynard, B.R., Beaver, K.M., Vaughn, M.G., DeLisi, M., and Roberts, G. (2014). Toward a Bioecological Model of School Engagement: A Biometric Analysis of Gene and Environmental Factors. Social Work Research, 38(3): 164–176. doi:10.1093/swr/svu018

Maynard, B.R., Peters, K.E., Vaughn, M.G., and Sarteschi, C.M. (2013). Fidelity in After-School Program Intervention Research: A Systematic Review. Research on Social Work Practice, 23(6): 613–623. doi:10.1177/1049731513491150

Maynard, B.R., Salas-Wright, C., Vaughn, M.G., and Peters, K. (2012). Who Are Truant Youth? Examining Distinctive Profiles of Truant Youth Using Latent Profile Analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41: 1671–1684. doi:10.1007/s10964–012–9788–1

Maynard, B.R., Salas-Wright, C.P., and Vaughn, M.G. (2015). High School Dropouts in Emerging Adulthood: Substance Use, Mental Health Problems, and Crime. Community Mental Health Journal, 51(3): 289–299. doi:10.1007/s10597–014–9760–5

Peters, K.E., Huang, J., Vaughn, M.G., and Witko, C.M. (2013). Does Breastfeeding Contribute to the Racial Gap in Reading and Math Test Scores? Annals of Epidemiology, 23(10): 646–651. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.06.091

Pyle, N., and Vaughn, S. (2012). Remediating Reading Difficulties in a Response to Intervention Model With Secondary Students. Psychology in the Schools, 49(3): 273–284. doi:10.1002/pits.21593

Vaughn, M., Beaver, K., Wexler, J., DeLisi, M., and Roberts, G. (2011). The Effect of School Dropout on Verbal Ability in Adulthood: A Propensity Score Matching Approach. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 40(2): 197–206. doi:10.1007/s10964–009–9501–1

Vaughn, M.G., and Witko, C. (2012). Does the Amount of School Choice Matter for Student Engagement? The Social Science Journal, 50(1): 23–33. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2012.07.004

Vaughn, M.G., and Witko, C.M. (2013). Does Amount of School Choice Matter for Student Engagement? . The Social Science Journal, 50(1): 23–33. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2012.07.004 Full text

Vaughn, M.G., Maynard, B.R., Salas-Wright, C.P. Perron, B.E., and Abdon, A. (2013). Prevalence and Correlates of Truancy in the US: Results From a National Sample. Journal of Adolescence, 36(4): 767–776. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.03.015

Vaughn, M.G., Salas-Wright, C., Maynard, B.R. (2014). Dropping out of School and Chronic Disease in the United States. Journal of Public Health, 22(3): 265–270. doi:10.1007/s10389–014–0615–x

Vaughn, M.G., Wexler, J., Beaver, K.M., Perron, B.E., Roberts, G., and Fu, J. (2011). Psychiatric Correlates of Behavioral Indicators of School Disengagement in the United States. Psychiatric Quarterly, 82(3): 191–206. doi:10.1007/s11126–010–9160–0

Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Schnakenberg, J., Fall, A-M., Vaughn, M., and Wexler, J. (in press). Improving Reading Comprehension for High School Students With Disabilities: Effects for Comprehension and School Retention. Exceptional Children.

Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Wexler, J., Vaughn, M.G., Fall, A.M., and Schnakenberg, J.B. (2014). High School Students With Reading Comprehension Difficulties: Results of a Randomized Control Trial of a Two-Year Reading Intervention. Journal of Learning Disabilities.

Wexler, J., and Pyle, N. (2012). Dropout Prevention and the Model-Minority Stereotype: Reflections From an Asian American High School Dropout. Urban Review, 44(5): 551–570. doi:10.1007/s11256–012–0207–4

Wexler, J., Pyle, N., and Fall, A.M. (in press). Dropout Prevention Intervention With Secondary Students: A Pilot Study of Project GOAL. Preventing School Failure.