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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy Study of an Integrated Science and Literacy Curriculum for Young Learners
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Harris, Christopher Awardee: WestEd
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018 – 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $3,298,589
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A180513

Previous Award Number: R305A180232
Previous Awardee: SRI International

Co-Principal Investigator: Feng, Mingyu; Billman, Alison; Murphy, Robert

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate an early elementary science curriculum that integrates language and literacy support to help meet the needs of our nation's increasingly diverse schools. Developed with funding from a previous Goal 2 — Development and Innovation grant (First Grade, Second Language: Uniting Science Knowledge and Literacy Development for English Learners), the integrated science and literacy curriculum (ISLC) is designed to support integrated science, language, and literacy learning in first grade. The ISLC curriculum engages students in the learning process through scientific investigations at a level appropriate for young learners and addresses the challenges of language and literacy development by ensuring that the language of science is brought forward and explicitly addressed in an integrated approach.

Project Activities: The integrated science and literacy curriculum (ISLC) consists of three units, each focused on one of three science domains: life, physical, and Earth science. The materials provide students with opportunities to strengthen their scientific proficiency by engaging with the Next Generation Science Standards' disciplinary core ideas, science practices, and crosscutting concepts. Moreover, students encounter central concepts through multiple modalities: doing, talking, reading, writing and visualizing. The researchers will evaluate the efficacy of ISLC for improving first grade students' science, language, and literacy learning.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of the ISLC curriculum for first grade students and disseminate the findings to researchers, education leaders, and policymakers.  Researchers will also produce peer reviewed publications and a publicly available dataset.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in diverse elementary schools in urban and suburban areas of California and Washington states.

Sample: The research team will conduct the study in approximately 168 first grade classrooms in 56 public elementary schools in California and Washington. The sample will include 2–3 large school districts, each serving culturally and linguistically diverse student populations with relatively high English Learner student populations (range from 30% to 60%) and with students who qualify for the Federal lunch program (range from 20% to 74%).

Intervention: The ISLC intervention is a content-rich integrated science and literacy curriculum that supports first grade students in building science content knowledge as well as oral language, vocabulary, and reading comprehension skills. It consists of three units, each focused on one of three science domains (i.e., life, physical, and Earth science) and each aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards in addition to a number of Common Core English Language Arts and English Language Development standards. Each unit is comprised of 21 45-minute lessons that can be taught within a 6–7 week period. The intervention also includes a series of three professional development sessions distributed cross the school year and timed to prepare teachers to teach each unit and cover the essential classroom practices that support language and literacy development.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will r randomly assign each of the 56 schools, with an average of 3 teachers at each school and 25 students per classroom, to either the treatment or control condition. The team will train teachers in treatment schools on the curriculum and ask them to implement the three ISLC units in first grade classrooms for two consecutive years. Researchers will examine the efficacy of the intervention in the second implementation year. They will use surveys, implementation logs, classroom observations and interviews to collect data on instructional practices in treatment and control classrooms and fidelity of implementation data within treatment classrooms.

Control Condition: Teachers in schools assigned to the control condition will use their business-as-usual curriculum and instructional practices and the typical professional development opportunities made available to them by the district.

Key Measures: The research team will administer standardized assessments in both science and reading at the end of the second implementation year, including the Iowa Assessments Science battery and the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests. They will also administer researcher-developed assessments that measure science vocabulary and the broad knowledge and practice goals of the Next Generation Science Standards. For English Learners, researchers will also analyze scores on the California and Washington English language development tests.

Data Analytic Strategy: To analyze the effect of the intervention on learning outcomes, the research team will model data for all students and separately for English Learner students using a three-level hierarchical linear regression model (students nested within teachers within schools). Researchers will use moderator analyses to examine the impact of the intervention on the learning of students with different baseline literacy levels, gender, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. Finally, they will use mediation analyses to explore the link between changes in teacher practices and student learning outcomes.

Related IES Projects: First Grade, Second Language: Uniting Science Knowledge and Literacy Development for English Learners (R305A130610)