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IES Grant

Title: Evaluating Michigan's Early Literacy Law: Impacts, Implementation and Improving State Capacity
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Strunk, Katharine Awardee: Michigan State University
Program: Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (09/01/19 - 08/31/24) Award Amount: $4,999,656
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R305H190004

Co-Principal Investigators: Cowen, Joshua; Wright, Tanya; Dynarski, Susan; Jacob, Brian; Keesler, Venessa; Howell, Thomas

Partner Institutions: Michigan State University, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, and University of Michigan

Project Activities: Partners will assess the implementation, impact, and cost of the Michigan "Read by Grade 3" law intended to increase early literacy outcomes for Michigan students by: 1) improving literacy instruction in all Michigan schools; 2) implementing early monitoring and identification systems; 3) requiring interventions for struggling readers; and 4) requiring that students unable to read at grade level by the end of the third grade be retained for extra intervention.

Products: The partnership team will provide evidence on the implementation, impact, and cost of the "Read by Grade 3" law. The team will provide the evidence directly to the Michigan Department of Education through the participation of department personnel on the project and through ongoing joint meetings, briefings, and policy papers. The team will present results to the research community through presentations and peer-reviewed publications to the practitioner and policymaker communities through a series of policy briefs, reports, seminars, and conferences. The partnership team will create datasets from administrative data and make them available through the Michigan Education Data Center.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in all public school districts (including charter schools) in the state of Michigan.

Sample: Participants include K-5th graders in Michigan public schools from 2011-2012 through 2023-2024

Intervention: Michigan's 2016 "Read by Grade 3" law specifies a set of requirements to be fully implemented by the 2019-2020 school year that are intended to improve literacy instruction for all K- 3 student and to ensure monitoring, remediation and retention for students falling behind. Literacy instruction is to be improved through the adoption of specific components of literacy instruction and the provision of teacher professional development and coaching in these components. Districts must administer valid, reliable reading assessments to all K-3 students at least three times a year and students identified at risk of failing to reach proficiency by the third grade must receive additional supports that intensify in Grade 3. Districts will retain third grade students (with exemptions available for certain types of students) who are a year behind or more on the state's third-grade Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) English/Language Arts assessment and provide additional interventions for the retained students.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will use two quasi-experimental designs to examine impacts on student outcomes. They will use an interrupted time series design to compare pre- and post-Law trends in student achievement, retention, mobility, and teacher retention and mobility. In addition, researchers will use a regression discontinuity design to examine the impacts on students designated as one grade level below reading proficiency in grade 3. In addition, they will include an implementation study based on surveys to the population of teachers, principals, district superintendents and literacy coaches; interviews with key policymakers; and classroom observations will assess the fidelity of implementation and examine why implementation may or may not have gone as planned. They will incorporate measures from the implementation study into the impact analyses to better understand how implementation and variation in implementation is associated with the success of the law.

Control Condition: For the interrupted time series analysis, students in K-3 before the "Read by Grade 3" law (school year 2015-16 or earlier) was implemented will serve as the comparison group. For the regression discontinuity design, students not designated as at least one grade below proficiency in grade 3 but near the cutoff point will serve as the comparison group.

Key Measures: Key measures in this project include: 3rd-grade English/Language Arts scores; K-3rd grade diagnostic assessment outcomes; student retention; student mobility; teacher mobility; reported literacy instruction; and perceived quality of literacy instruction.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will estimate variants of an interrupted time series model and use a regression discontinuity analysis. They will conduct additional analyses for specific subgroups based on student, school, and district characteristics. They will use descriptive statistics and regression models to analyze fidelity of implementation and the relationships between implementation and outcomes.

Cost Analysis: Researchers will collect cost data from a purposive sample of 50 Michigan school districts and address costs for: (1) parents or guardians, (2) teachers, (3) literacy coaches, (4) local school district administration. They will aggregate these costs for part of the total costs for school districts and intermediate school districts. Fixed or administrative costs for the implementation of the program that are not related to per student costs will be obtained by surveying districts and intermediate school districts.

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