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IES Grant

Title: Content-Focused Coaching (SM) for High Quality Reading Instruction
Center: NCER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Matsumura, Lindsay Clare Awardee: University of Pittsburgh
Program: Effective Teachers and Effective Teaching      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,946,864
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305W060027
Description:

Purpose: Reading is critical to children's academic and future economic success. Yet reading skills continue to lag in the upper elementary grades. Recent national results showed that 69% of fourth-graders scored below a proficient level in reading, and 36% in the below-basic category. Focused instruction on the basic skills of phonemic awareness and decoding fluency are beginning to show results in the primary grades, but most schools and districts report stagnation or even declines once students enter fourth grade, where the focus of reading instruction should turn to comprehension in other content areas. Finding new strategies for building teachers' capacity to teach reading comprehension well is a significant challenge. One way that school districts across the country have responded to this challenge has been to hire additional, presumably more skilled, teachers as "instructional coaches." However, there is no agreed upon definition of the coaching job, and the actual tasks that coaches perform vary widely. This project will implement and study a structured coaching program that is designed to improve reading comprehension instruction in the upper elementary grades.

Project Activities: The researchers will investigate the impact of the Content-Focused Coaching model. Content-focused coaching entails a long-term engagement of teachers in a learning community, focused on a specific instructional program, with the opportunity to design, enact, and critique lessons with the guidance of a more expert practitioner. This expert practitioner or coach can teach the new content knowledge teachers need, and is also able to assist in the performance of new and demanding forms of teaching. When implemented well, coaching thus creates an apprenticeship environment for learning the knowledge, skills, and beliefs of the expert reading teacher.

Products: The products from this project will include a coaching program for teachers, and published papers.

Setting: The schools are located in Texas.

Population: Participants are fourth and fifth grade teachers and their students from schools that serve a high percentage of low-income, minority, and English language learning students.

Intervention: The researchers will investigate the impact of the Content-Focused Coaching model. Content-focused coaching entails a long-term engagement of teachers in a learning community, focused on a specific instructional program, with the opportunity to design, enact and critique lessons with the guidance of a more expert practitioner. This expert practitioner or coach can teach the new content knowledge teachers need, and is also able to assist in the performance of new and demanding forms of teaching. When implemented well, coaching thus creates an apprenticeship environment for learning the knowledge, skills, and beliefs of the expert reading teacher. In this project, coaches will be identified and hired by the district in consultation with the research team. Fourth and fifth grade teachers in the intervention schools will receive intensive coaching focused on reading comprehension instruction. Coaching will include weekly grade-level meetings and individual conferences between the coach and teachers. Coaches will participate in training sessions twice a month led by one of the developers of the coach-training program, as well as in one-on-one on-site coaching. The principals in the intervention schools will also participate in training to develop their understanding and support of the intervention.

Research Design and Methods: From the pool of eligible district schools, 30 will be randomly chosen. Of these, 15 schools (with at least 100 teachers total) will be randomly assigned to the intervention group and will receive coaching. The other 15 schools (with at least 100 teachers total) will be randomly assigned to the control group.

Control Condition: The teachers in the comparison group schools will have an equivalent amount of time freed during the regular work week to engage in common planning and in the professional development activities that are standard practice for the district.

Key Measures: Teacher-level outcomes (instructional quality) and student-level outcomes (student achievement) will be compared to assess the impact of Content-Focused Coaching on each. The quality of instruction will be assessed using surveys, observations, and collections of classroom assignments with student work. The quality of the implementation of the coaching intervention also will be assessed using surveys and observations of coaching sessions. Student learning will be assessed using the state achievement test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) administered annually, and the Degrees of Reading Power assessment administered twice a year.

Data Analytic Strategy: Because the unit of randomization is schools, and because of the natural nesting of students within teachers within schools, the researchers will build multi-level models to analyze data from this trial.

Publications from this project:

Matsumura, L.C., Garnier, H.E., and Spybrook, J. (2012). The Effect of Content-Focused Coaching on the Quality of Classroom Text Discussions. Journal of Teacher Education, 63 (3): 214–228.

Matsumura, L., Garnier, H.E., and Spybrook, J. (2013). Literacy Coaching To Improve Student Reading Achievement: A Multi-Level Mediation Model. Learning and Instruction, 25: 35–48.

Matsumura, L.C., Garnier, H.E., Correnti, R., Junker, B., and Bickel, D.D. (2010). Investigating the Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Literacy-Coaching Program in Schools with High Teacher Mobility. Elementary School Journal, 111 (1): 35–62.

Matsumura, L.C., Garnier, H.E., Resnick, L.B. (2010). Implementing Literacy Coaching: The Role of School Social Resources. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32 (2): 249–272.

Matsumura, L.C., Sartoris, M., Bickel, D.D., and Garnier, H.E. (2009). Leadership for Literacy Coaching: The Principal's Role in Launching a New Coaching Program. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45 (5): 655–693.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Reading and Writing in FY 2008.


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