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IES Grant

Title: Developing an Extension of the TELL Curriculum for 3-Year-Old Children with Developmental Speech and/or Language Impairment
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Gray, Shelley Awardee: Arizona State University
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018-06/30/6022) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A180093
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Wilcox, M. Jeanne; Zheng, Yi

Purpose: The purpose of this project is develop and pilot test an expanded version of Teaching Early Literacy and Language across the Curriculum (TELL), a preschool curriculum designed to promote differentiated instruction for children with developmental speech and/or language impairments to improve oral language and early literacy skills. The expanded version of TELL, originally designed for 4-year-old children, will extend the curriculum down to age 3. Many children with mild to moderate delays or disabilities are not receiving high-quality preschool special education with evidence-based literacy instruction and environments that promote language development. The need for a curriculum that could be feasibly implemented with fidelity by preschool teachers led to the development of the original TELL for 4-year-old children. The results of an IES-supported efficacy trial indicated that children with developmental speech and/or language impairment who received TELL demonstrated significantly more growth in a number of early language and literacy skills (e.g., receptive and expressive vocabulary, print knowledge, phonological awareness) than children in the control group. However, preschool frequently begins at age 3, and these children may experience 2 years of preschool or be in mixed-aged classrooms with 4-year-old children. Thus, the goal of the current project is to adapt the TELL curriculum, curriculum-based measures (CBMs), and professional development training to cover a wider developmental range that includes 3-year-old children.

Project Activities: The research team will develop the intervention in three phases. They will adapt the existing curriculum based on feedback from practitioners and a review of professional early learning standards, run iterative trials of the revised intervention, and conduct a feasibility study. For the pilot study, the team will conduct a small randomized controlled trial of the revised TELL intervention to test its promise for improving the oral language and early literacy skills of 3-year-old children with developmental speech and/or language impairments.

Products: The products of this project will include the fully developed TELL curriculum for 3-year-old children with developmental speech and/or language impairment, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in preschool classrooms (i.e., special education classrooms and inclusive classrooms) in Arizona.

Sample:  Participants for the development phases include practitioners on the Advisory Team (4 preschool teachers, 2 administrators, and 1 speech-language pathologist), 13 additional preschool teachers, 21 speech language pathologists, and 51 children with developmental speech and/or language impairment. For the pilot study, 24 preschool teachers and their teaching assistants and 140 3-year-old children with developmental speech and/or language impairment will participate.

Intervention: Teaching Early Literacy and Language (TELL) is a curriculum for preschool children with developmental speech and/or language impairment that uses evidence-based strategies to support oral language and early literacy skill development across many classroom activities (e.g., shared book reading, math, science, art). In addition to language, the curriculum focuses on explicit, systematic instruction in code-related skills, including conventions of print, beginning writing, grapheme knowledge, grapheme-phoneme correspondence, and phonological awareness. As part of TELL, teachers use curriculum-based measures (CBMs) to monitor children's oral language and early literacy skill development and to design instructional activities  that meet individual children's needs. Teachers and teaching assistants receive professional development through formal training and in-class coaching.

Research Design and Methods: Development of the intervention will occur in three phases. In the first phase (Year 1), the team will survey the Advisory Team and additional preschool teachers to determine how well the current TELL curriculum meets the needs of 3-year-old children with speech and/or language impairments and how to improve the curriculum for this age group. In addition, the research team will review and revise the curriculum based on how well it meets early learning standards, builds precursor skills targeted by the Common Core State Standards, and meets professional early childhood organization standards. In the second phase (Year 2), the team will conduct field trials of the revised intervention with the Advisory Team teachers and the speech language pathologist to evaluate their experiences with the curriculum components, CBMs, and professional development training. In the third phase (Year 3), the team will conduct a feasibility study of the revised intervention with the Advisory Team and additional preschool teachers to obtain feedback on implementation and satisfaction with TELL. For the pilot study (Year 4), the research team will implement a small randomized controlled trial of the revised TELL, comparing children in classrooms with teachers implementing TELL to children receiving business-as-usual classroom lessons. This pilot test will evaluate the promise of TELL for improving the oral language and early literacy skills of 3-year-old children with developmental speech and/or language impairments.

Control Condition: For the Year 4 pilot study, children in the control condition will receive business-as-usual classroom instruction.

Key Measures: The following child outcomes will be assessed using both researcher-developed CBMs and standardized assessments (listed in parentheses): phonological awareness (Preschool Early Literacy Indicators; PELI), alphabet knowledge (PELI), print concepts (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening; PALS-PreK), writing (PELI), vocabulary (PELI), and sentence length complexity (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Preschool 2; CELF-Preschool-2). Teacher outcome measures include observational measures of their use of specific language and literacy teaching strategies, a researcher-developed fidelity checklist, and the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation measure (ELLCO Pre-K). Possible child-level moderators of intervention effects include nonverbal cognitive skills (Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-II), school attendance (school records), home literacy environment (Home Literacy Environment Checklist), and family characteristics (demographic questionnaire). Teacher-level moderator measures include logs of professional development group session attendance, a demographics questionnaire, the Preschool Teacher Literacy Beliefs Questionnaire, and an observational measure of quality of instructional support (Classroom Assessment Scoring System, CLASS pre-K). Teachers will also complete surveys to provide feedback on usability and satisfaction with the curriculum (Stages of Concern Questionnaire) and social validity (researcher-developed survey). Coaches will use the Procedural Fidelity Checklist to measure TELL teachers' adherence to the curriculum. Fidelity of professional development training and coaching will be assessed by measures to be developed by the research team. 

Data Analytic Strategy: For the pilot study, the research team will use multilevel modeling to assess the intervention's promise for improving child language and early literacy outcomes. Latent growth curve modeling will be used to examine children's growth in the oral language and early literacy skills measured by the CBMs. The team will also conduct exploratory moderator analyses to examine relationships between observed child outcomes, child and family characteristics, and teacher characteristics using multiple linear regressions. Researchers will use descriptive and qualitative analyses (i.e., identification and summary of themes in the feedback data) to evaluate treatment fidelity, usability, and feasibility using data collected from the satisfaction questionnaire, teachers' informal feedback during professional development training activities, and coaches' classroom observations.

Related IES Projects: Efficacy of the TELL Curriculum for Preschool Children who are Economically Disadvantaged (R305A170068)


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