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IES Grant

Title: Evaluating a State-Level Initiative to Implement Supplemental Academic and Behavior Interventions in an Integrated Multi-Tiered System of Supports
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Nelson, Nancy Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (8/1/2018–7/31/2020) Award Amount: $250,000
Award Number: R324L180014

Co-Principal Investigators: Baker, Scott; Kosty, Derek; Goodman, Steve

Partner Institution(s): Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Special Education (MDE/OSE); Macomb Intermediate School District

Purpose: Many states are enacting statewide initiatives to implement multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) and integrate existing behavior support models within academic MTSS. However, limited research has been conducted to determine the effects of providing more intensive support within an integrated academic and behavioral MTSS framework. Researchers at the University of Oregon are partnering with the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Special Education (MDE/OSE) to address this research gap. The MTSS to be studied has three key features: (1) inclusion of an explicit, systematic instruction framework that relies on highly-specified protocols to teach academic and behavior content; (2) alignment of the content, instructional features, and student assessment between Tier 1 (core instruction) and Tier 2 (supplemental) interventions; and (3) integration of academic and behavior protocols (e.g., reading interventions incorporate behavioral principles and vice versa) within tiers of support. This project will evaluate the impact of a Tier 2 reading and behavior intervention on students’ academic and behavioral outcomes in a system involving integrated Tier 1 and Tier 2 support. The evaluation will also document features of Tier 1 and Tier 2 implementation (i.e., fidelity, quality, and intensity) that may hinder or amplify the effects of the Tier 2 intervention. MDE/OSE will use the results of this evaluation to inform efforts to expand the implementation of integrated, supplemental reading and behavior interventions in schools across the state.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the partnership researchers will use a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the impact of the Tier 2 integrated reading and behavior intervention. Specifically, they will compare the academic and behavioral outcomes of students who receive the integrated Tier 2 intervention (in addition to integrated Tier 1 instruction) to students who receive integrated Tier 1 supports only. In Year 2, the partners will analyze the data, summarize the findings, and disseminate the results.

Products: The results of the study will be disseminated through local and state-wide oral briefings, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The evaluation will take place in all first and second grade classrooms in nine participating schools in several rural school districts in Michigan (approximately 48 classrooms total).

Sample: Participants will include approximately 16 interventionists (i.e., school personnel who will provide Tier 2 interventions), 48 teachers, and 1,009 first- and second-grade students. The students will be those with or at risk for literacy-related disabilities who regularly receive Tier 1 instruction.

Intervention: The Tier 2 intervention to be evaluated integrates reading and behavior supports for students with or at risk for disabilities in a multi-tiered system that involves a data-based decision-making component for teachers. The reading component includes Enhanced Core Reading Instruction (ECRI), which is implemented in small groups by an interventionist who provides explicit instruction using highly-specified protocols to teach critical reading skills (e.g., spelling, decoding, reading fluency). The behavior component is Check-In/Check-Out (CICO), which includes (1) brief morning and afternoon check-in meetings between the student and staff member, (2) a daily report card on which teachers monitor and record student behavior, (3) teacher feedback at predetermined times throughout the intervention period, (4) charting of student behavior with goal setting, and (5) communication with parents/families. CICO not only addresses behavior concerns, but it is also integrated with ECRI to improve reading engagement (e.g., task completion, participation during reading intervention sessions). Students assigned to the intervention will receive the integrated Tier 2 intervention in addition to integrated Tier 1 supports. Tier 1 supports include business-as-usual reading instruction and Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, which is a framework for the prevention (rather than the punishment) of behavior problems that involves teaching students appropriate behavior and using non-punitive approaches to address problem behavior (e.g., cool down room, time with a peer mentor).

Research Design and Methods: A regression discontinuity design will be used to evaluate the impact of the integrated Tier 2 intervention above and beyond the effects of integrated Tier 1 supports. Students will be assigned to the intervention or control condition based on cut scores on the assignment variable, the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills-Nonsense Word Fluency (DIBELS-NWF), collected at the beginning of the school year. Students whose score falls in the “at risk” category will be assigned to the intervention (Tier 2 intervention in addition to Tier 1 supports) and students with scores that fall in the “low risk” category will be assigned to the control condition (Tier 1 supports only). Student outcomes in reading and behavior will be measured at the beginning and end of the school year. Data on fidelity, quality, and intensity of implementation of Tier 1 and 2 will be assessed throughout the year.

Control Condition: Students assigned to the control condition will receive integrated Tier 1 supports only.

Key Measures: The main sources of data for this study will be the assessments routinely used by the MDE, including the DIBELS-NWF (for screening and assignment of students to the intervention or control condition), the DIBELS-Oral Reading Fluency, the Student Risk Screening Scale (to assess reading outcomes), and a series of early warning indicators like office discipline referrals (to assess behavioral outcomes). Additionally, the researchers will analyze data collected by the state on the fidelity, quality, and intensity of implementation of Tiers 1 and 2 via the Tiered Fidelity Inventory, Reading Tiered Fidelity Inventory, the Moving Up Implementation Coach app, coaching implementation logs, and the School-wide Information System.

Data Analytic Strategy: The team will use multilevel regression models with students nested within schools to assess the impact of the Tier 2 intervention on students’ reading and behavioral outcomes. The multilevel regression models will be extended to test for school- (e.g., type of core reading curriculum) and student-level (e.g., baseline levels of reading and behavior) moderators of intervention effects.

Related IES Projects: Project ECRI: Enhancing Core Reading Instruction in First Grade (R324A090104)