|Title:||A Randomized Trial of Preschool Instructional Strategies to Improve School Performance and Reduce Use of Special Education|
|Principal Investigator:||Lonigan, Christopher||Awardee:||Florida State University|
|Program:||Early Intervention and Early Learning [Program Details]|
|Award Period:||6/1/2006 to 5/31/2010||Award Amount:||$3,299,598|
|Type:||Efficacy and Replication||Award Number:||R324E060086|
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to compare the value added impact of an intervention focusing explicitly on language, literacy, and cognitive skills, with an intervention explicitly focused on these skills plus self-regulation. Recent research supports the promise of targeted and research-based intervention for preschool age children in language, early literacy, and cognitive skills as a preventive tool to reduce the number of children in need of costly special education services in kindergarten and beyond. Research also suggests the potential need for an additional focus on developing cognitive and behavioral self-regulatory skills in preschool children. This research project is designed to further examine this relationship.
Project Activities: The researchers are examining the efficacy of two interventions using three treatment groups; (a) Literacy Express, a language and literacy focused comprehensive preschool curriculum; (b) Tools of the Mind, a literacy and self-regulation focused preschool curriculum; or (c) a newly created curriculum that includes modular components from both curriculums. The study involves a cluster randomization of preschool classrooms serving a significant number of children identified with or at-risk for learning disabilities and special education qualification to one of four curriculum conditions- the three treatment groups listed above or a business as usual control group. Independent observers and mentors will conduct fidelity of implementation observations in all classrooms. Children from 100 preschool classrooms in New Mexico and Massachusetts would be phased into the blocked randomization across three years, and children would be followed through kindergarten, first, or second grade. Hierarchical linear modeling taking the nested structure of the design into account will be used to evaluate the academic and self-regulatory impact of each condition as compared to one another and the control group. Measures of special education service provision and grade retention will be used to evaluate the cost-benefit value of each preschool intervention condition.
Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:
Setting: The preschool classrooms are located in New Mexico and eastern Massachusetts.
Population: Approximately 100 preschool classrooms and 2400 children with disabilities or at-risk for specific learning disabilities because of limited knowledge of English, poverty, or home environments with limited language stimulation or literacy exposure will participate in this research.
Intervention: Three interventions are being evaluated: (a) Literacy Express, (b) Tools of the Mind and (c) Literacy Express + self-regulation activities from Tools of the Mind.
Literacy Express is a research-based literacy curriculum that addresses the key components of early literacy instruction through large- and small-group activities. The curriculum is organized around ten thematic units, which are covered in three to four weeks each. Embedded within each unit are goals and activities designed to promote children's skills in oral language, phonological sensitivity, and print awareness.
Tools of the Mind (TOM) is a research-based program that focuses on practices that enhance both the teaching of literacy and the development of self-regulation in children. TOM activities can be divided into two types of practices: those aimed at developing children's literacy skills and those aimed at developing their cognitive self-regulation skills.Literacy Express plus self regulation activities from Tools of the Mind is the third approach being evaluated. This curriculum is being created to test the effects of self-regulation independently. This condition will contain all of the components of the Literacy Express curriculum plus the cognitive self-regulation practices from Tools of the Mind.
Research Design and Methods: An experimental study implementing random assignment of classroom to intervention conditions will be implemented to determine the efficacy of the three interventions (Literacy Express, Tools of the Mind and Literacy Express + self regulation activities from Tools of the Mind) as compared to each other and a business as usual control group. Classrooms serving a significant number of children identified with or at-risk for learning disabilities and special education qualification will be blocked to create equivalent groups. Blocking variables include district, proportion of children whose home language is not English, and proportion of children with identified special needs. Quartets of classrooms will be formed so that each of the four classrooms within that block are as similar as possible. Each classroom from these quartets will be randomly assigned to one of the four conditions. This sample will be recruited in two cohorts over two years, and children will be followed through kindergarten, first, or second grade.
Control Condition: The control classrooms will be "business as usual" controls. However, the curricula will vary across classrooms and districts, with a variety of curricula and differential levels of implementation. Control classrooms will be provided with one year of curriculum support, and classrooms will be allowed to choose either Literacy Express or Tools of the Mind in the year following their participation in the study.
Key Measures: Measures of phonological awareness, oral language, print knowledge, and cognitive development as well as behavioral measures of self-regulation will be administered at the beginning and end of preschool. Reading and self-regulation measures will be administered in the spring of each follow up year. In addition, data will be collected to assess the overall quality of classroom practices and environments and fidelity of intervention implementation. Finally, data regarding special education service provision and grade retention will be used to evaluate the cost-benefit value of each preschool intervention condition.
Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) will be used to evaluate the academic and self-regulatory impact of each intervention as compared to one another and to the control group.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Spiegel, J. A., Lonigan, C. J., and Phillips, B. M. (in press). Factor Structure and Utility of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version . Psychological Assessment, 29(2): 172–185. doi:10.1037/pas0000324