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IES Grant

Title: Liberate
Center: NCSER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Houchins, David Awardee: Georgia State University
Program: Special Topic: Systems-Involved Students with Disabilities      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2019–06/30/2023) Award Amount: $3,299,326
Goal: Efficacy Award Number: R324A190145
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Hines, Rebecca; Reed, Deborah

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy of Read 180 with struggling adolescent readers in juvenile justice schools. Read 180 is a widely used literacy program for differentiating instruction in typical school settings. Research indicates that students with and without disabilities in juvenile justice schools often demonstrate serious literacy deficits. In addition, the prevalence of students with disabilities in juvenile justice schools is about three times greater than in typical schools, with the majority having learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disabilities. Juvenile justice schools need evidence-based programs in which to invest. This project seeks to address this need by building onto a previous IES-funded study to develop and pilot test an intervention package for students in juvenile justice settings that included Read 180 and an enhanced professional (PD) model to supplement Read 180. The intervention package demonstrated feasibility and promise for improving the literacy outcomes of students in juvenile justice schools, but the efficacy of Read 180 (with this enhanced PD supplement) has not yet been tested in this setting. Thus, the current study will examine the efficacy of Read 180 for improving the literacy outcomes of struggling adolescent readers in juvenile justice schools, including students with disabilities, as well as factors that mediate or moderate intervention impacts.

Project Activities: The research team will evaluate the efficacy of Read 180 using a randomized controlled trial. In each year of the project, eligible students will be recruited and randomly assigned to the intervention or comparison group as they enter the juvenile justice schools. Teachers will receive PD on how to implement Read 180 and implement the intervention for the duration of the school year while researchers monitor fidelity and collect data. At the end of the school year, researchers will collect feedback on the program from teachers, administrators, and students. Data analyses will determine the effects of Read 180 on reading outcomes for all students and those with disabilities, processes that mediate or moderate intervention impacts, conditions that support or hinder implementation, and the costs and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

Products: This project will provide evidence of the efficacy of Read 180 for improving the reading outcomes of students in juvenile justice facilities. The project will also result in a final dataset to be shared, peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in four long-term juvenile justice schools in Florida.

Sample: Approximately 9 classroom teachers, 4 administrators, and 1,488 students will participate in this research across the 4 years of the project.

Intervention: Read 180 is a widely used literacy program for differentiating instruction for struggling adolescent readers. The program uses a blended learning approach that includes textbooks, computer software, trade books, and supplementary worksheets. Each lesson begins with whole-group instruction which includes an anchoring video for background and motivational information as well as instruction in academic vocabulary, reading strategies, grammar, and writing instruction. This is followed by small-group, computer-based activities, and/or individual work. The program includes a diagnostic tool and an online data management system that allows teachers to tailor instruction to students' specific needs. Additional program materials include in-person and on-demand PD for teachers. In the current study, Read 180 will be supplemented with the previously developed enhanced PD package, which was designed to address many of the barriers juvenile justice teachers confront when implementing Read 180. During all on-site trainings, teachers must demonstrate proficiency in the instructional and assessment procedures. Those who don't meet the standard will receive additional in-person or virtual PD. In addition, continuous PD will be provided online. Teachers will upload video recordings of their Read 180 lessons twice a month and receive feedback from the research team. Teachers will also have access to PD modules available through the publisher's website and individual teachers may be assigned particular modules based on needs identified in their videos. In addition, the research team will conduct virtual meetings and in-person PD and coaching during classroom visits on an as-needed basis.

Research Design and Methods: This study will use a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of Read 180. During Years 1 through 4, students who struggle with reading will be recruited and randomly assigned to the intervention or comparison group. Randomization will be ongoing, as students enter the juvenile justice schools. Teachers will receive on-site professional development on how to implement Read 180 and will subsequently implement the intervention for the duration of the school year. Because there is only one teacher at some facilities, a single teacher may teach Read 180 in some of their literacy blocks, but typical reading instruction in others. Detailed dosage data (minutes of exposure to instruction and length of stay at the school) will be documented for each student given that students stay in the facility for different lengths of time. Students' literacy performance will be assessed at entry to and exit from the juvenile justice school as well as every 3 months while students are at the school. Literacy-related progress monitoring measures will be administered monthly. Behavioral progress monitoring will be administered weekly. Data on potential mediating and moderating variables (such as mental health and trauma at entry) will also be collected. Researchers will monitor fidelity of implementation through virtual and in-person observations. Researchers will also conduct a supplementary implementation study to better understand the conditions that support or hinder implementation. Specifically, they will conduct focus groups with teachers, administrators, and students annually to obtain feedback on the program, including barriers and supports to implementation. They will also code data from cumulative student records to determine the presence of characteristics that may mediate or moderate literacy outcomes.

Control Condition: Students in the comparison group will receive business-as-usual reading instruction.

Key Measures: To assess students' literacy outcomes, the research team will use the following measures: HMH Reading Inventory, a computer-adaptive assessment of overall reading ability; Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency to assess the speed with which students recognize words in sentences; Reading Assessment for Prescriptive Instructional Data, a computer-adaptive test of vocabulary knowledge, reading comprehension, syntactic knowledge, and word recognition; Test of Written Language – Fourth Edition to assess written language; and AIMSweb progress monitoring measures to assess reading comprehension, spelling, and written expression. Several assessments will be used to measure student behavior, including cumulative student records (such as students' mental health and risk status, disability classification); Childhood Trauma Questionnaire; Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener; and Daily Progress Reports. Measures to assess teacher-level characteristics include Content Knowledge of Teaching Reading, Informal Survey of Linguistic Knowledge, and Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale. Teachers will also complete the Intervention Rating Profile to assess social validity of the intervention. School-level characteristics, including willingness to change and climate, will be assessed by the Organizational Readiness for Change and Psychological Climate Survey, respectively. In-person observations and video recordings will be used to assess fidelity of implementation. Focus groups will be used to assess barriers and supports to implementation.

Data Analytic Strategy: The efficacy of Read 180 will be examined using an intent-to-treat approach. Multilevel growth curve modeling will be used to determine the effects of Read 180 on student reading outcomes and will take into account the multiple measures nested within each student. A variety of student-level covariates will be included such as age, disability status, and initial student reading ability. Researchers will also explore potential mediators and moderators within the multilevel growth models. Researchers will conduct a correlational analysis to determine if there is a relationship between degree of implementation fidelity in the intervention classrooms and the magnitude of effects. To analyze data from the implementation study, focus group transcripts will be coded for themes and data from cumulative student records will undergo deductive coding to describe student characteristics that may impact literacy, such as disability classification or record of offenses. The research team will share data interpretations with teachers, administrators, and students to verify accuracy. Researchers will analyze the costs of the intervention using the ingredients method and conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis by calculating the cost per unit of student gain.

Related IES Projects: Project LIBERATE (Literacy Instruction Based on Evidence through Research for Adjudicated Teens to Excel) (R324A080006)


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