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IES Grant

Title: Collaborative Teacher Expertise in Evidence-Based Decision Making for Reading Intervention: Development of the EXPERT Training Program
Center: NCSER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Toste, Jessica Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2019 - 6/30/2023) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A190126

Co-Principal Investigator: Clemens, Nathan

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop the EXPERT intervention, a professional development model for improving teachers' use of evidence-based decision making (EBDM) to effectively intensify interventions for students with reading disabilities (RD) in grades 3-5. Specific learning disabilities (SLD) are the most common disabilities in K-12 education, with RD being the most common form of SLD. Students with RD need intensive, individualized interventions in order to make measurable gains in reading achievement. Implementing intensive interventions requires a high level of expertise in assessing students and making evidence-based decisions. While teachers now have access to more data than ever, many lack the knowledge and skills to use that data to make decisions. The aim of this project is to develop a professional development program that addresses multiple factors associated with improving teachers' use of EBDM, is manageable and meaningful to teachers, fosters collaboration between general and special education teachers, and recognizes the support that is needed for teachers to develop complex skills in real-world settings. The project will also test the promise of the EXPERT intervention for improving teachers' knowledge and skills in EBDM and students' reading achievement and the cost of implementing the intervention.

Project Activities: An iterative development process will be used to design, refine, and validate the EXPERT intervention. Researchers will investigate current practices in EBDM among special education and general education teachers to inform the development of the intervention. Next, a single-case design study will be used to detect changes in teachers' behaviors while participating in specific components of the EXPERT intervention. Researchers will then conduct a pre-/post-test study to examine the feasibility of the EXPERT intervention. The fully developed intervention will be tested in a pilot study using a randomized controlled trial comparing the knowledge and skills for implementing EBDM of teacher dyads (comprised of a general education teacher and a special education teacher) who participate in the EXPERT intervention versus teachers in the business-as-usual condition. Researchers will also examine the costs of implementing the version of the intervention tested in the pilot study.

Products: The primary product of this project will be a fully developed EXPERT intervention for improving teachers' use of EBDM to intensify interventions for students with RD in grades 3-5. In addition, the project will result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in elementary schools in Texas.

Sample: Participants will include 182 teaching dyads (comprised of a special education and a general education teacher) and 2-3 students with RD per dyad. Students with RD will be those with a goal in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) related to word reading and a score that falls below the 25th percentile on a screening measure of word reading skills.

Intervention: The aim of the EXPERT intervention is to develop teachers' expertise in EBDM, namely their ability to evaluate student assessment data and understand when ineffective interventions should be changed and how interventions should be individualized using evidence-based practices. The EXPERT intervention includes the following three core components: (1) formation of collaborative dyads among special educators and general educators; (2) coaching to provide individualized knowledge and skill development for teachers; and (3) self-monitoring procedures implemented by teachers on their EBDM practices. Individualized coaching is provided to improve teachers' knowledge and skills in reading instruction, EBDM, and evidence-based reading interventions. Coaches will have a menu of training modules to draw from in providing this tailored coaching based on teacher needs.

Research Design and Methods: In Year 1, researchers will investigate current practices in EBDM among special education and general education teachers through focus groups, interviews, and direct observation. This will inform their development of the EXPERT intervention and a fidelity of implementation measure that will capture the intervention components and teachers' adherence to EBDM practices. In Year 2, a single-case design study will be used to test changes in teachers' behaviors while participating in specific components of the EXPERT intervention. In Year 3, feasibility of the EXPERT intervention will be explored through a pre-post single-group design study. In Year 4, researchers will conduct a randomized controlled trial pilot study to assess the costs of the intervention and its promise for improving teachers' knowledge and skills in EBDM and students' reading achievement.

Control Condition: In the Year 4 pilot study, teaching dyads in the control condition will receive a standard professional development workshop—without the sustained coloration, coaching, or self-monitoring. Similar to the treatment condition, each dyad will have target students and they will be asked to implement EBDM practices.

Key Measures: Measures of teachers' knowledge include the following: Teacher Knowledge Survey (understanding of phonological awareness, decoding, orthography, and morphological awareness), Teacher Perceptions about Early Reading and Spelling (knowledge and perceptions of explicit vs. implicit code instruction in reading), and Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale (self-efficacy related to student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management). Measures of teachers' skills in EBDM include a researcher-developed survey and EXPERT monitoring tool. Students' reading achievement will be assessed through the following measures: Woodcock Reading Mastery Test –Third Edition (word attack, word identification, and oral reading fluency), Test of Word Reading Efficiency – Second Edition (sight-word efficiency and phonemic decoding efficiency), Polysyllabic Word Reading Test (multi-syllabic word reading), and CBMReading (progress monitoring and reading growth). The potential moderator, behavioral adjustment, will be measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Coaches' adherence to the coaching procedures will be assessed through audio-recordings of meetings between coaches and dyads, coaching logs of activities, and teacher evaluation surveys. Data will be collected from project budgets and school personnel to understand the cost of implementing the EXPERT intervention, including costs for personnel, facilities, materials and equipment, and other miscellaneous costs.

Data Analytic Strategy: During the development of the intervention, qualitative data from focus groups, interviews, and observations will be analyzed using content analysis to identify themes. Quantitative data from the knowledge and skills surveys will be analyzed descriptively. Multilevel regression models will be used to estimate the effect of the intervention with students with RD nested in dyads, and dyads nested in schools. Moderators (English learner status and behavioral adjustment) of treatment effect will be evaluated as interaction terms within the general multi-level framework. Researchers will conduct a cost analysis and use that data and outcome data from the pilot study to conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis. This will be conducted by computing incremental cost-effectiveness ratios where the numerator is the difference between the EXPERT intervention and the control condition, and the denominator is the effect size for the difference in outcome between conditions. Ratios will be computed at the student level and at the teacher level to determine the additional expense of producing the intervention gains.