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IES Grant

Title: Maximizing Literacy Learning among Children with Mild to Moderate Mental Retardation: Project Maximize
Center: NCSER Year:
Principal Investigator: Mathes, Patricia Awardee: Southern Methodist University
Program: Unsolicited and Other Awards: Special Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 1/1/2005 to 12/31/2009 Award Amount: $2,941,086*
Award Number: H324K040011

Funded through the Office of Special Education Programs prior to the establishment of NCSER.

Purpose: The purpose of the proposed research is to determine if what we know about teaching reading to children with reading difficulties applies to children who have mild to moderate mental retardation (MR). The researchers will also explore what levels of reading competence can be achieved when a long-term intervention is implemented.

Project Activities: The project is designed to address the following research questions:

  1. Are interventions (proactive reading) that are effective in teaching low readers also effective for teaching children with MR?
  2. What level of reading competence can be obtained using long-term intervention?
  3. Are there interactions between academic outcomes and child characteristics?
  4. Are students with MR who receive intervention afforded greater access to the general education curriculum?

This 4 year longitudinal study will evaluate whether an adaptation of the Proactive Reading intervention, initially developed and proven effective with struggling readers, will be effective for students in grades 1-3 (at beginning of the study) with mild to moderate cognitive disability. The adapted intervention extends the amount of time required for teaching the critical components of reading and incorporates activities that will enhance language comprehension skills.

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:

  1. A 4-year reading curriculum validated on students with MR in elementary school,
  2. Supplemental lessons to enhance oral language comprehension for students with MR, and
  3. Presentations and publications on reading outcomes for students that receive the reading intervention in contrast to a business as usual control group.

Setting: Participating students will be from Texas.

Population: Approximately 150 students with mild and moderate mental retardation in grades 1-3 will participate in this study. Students selected to participate will be pulled out of the general classroom and administered the intervention in small groups by a research teacher.

Intervention: Proactive Reading is a comprehensive, integrated intervention curriculum. The curriculum has been systematically arranged into a scope and sequence intended to support successful learning. There are five content strands: phonemic awareness, letter-knowledge, word recognition, connected text fluency, and comprehension. Several adaptations will be made to Proactive Reading for it to be potentially effective for students with MR. The adapted Proactive Reading curriculum will incorporate a functional reading strand and a set of phonemic awareness foundation lessons. Brief language support activities will also be added as well as an oral language comprehension component.

Research Design and Methods: Students will be randomly assigned to intervention or control condition for between-group comparisons. Within-group comparisons will examine outcomes of the pre-post measures longitudinally over a 4-year period.

Control Condition: The control group will include students with mild and moderate mental retardation who will receive the schools selected reading curriculum.

Key Measures: The effects of the Proactive Reading intervention curriculum on students with mild and moderate mental retardation will be evaluated using a battery of commercial and non-commercial measures. Key pre-post intervention measures include, for example, the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP), Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). In addition, progress monitoring measures will be collected using particular subtests of DIBELS. Finally, data will be collected to examine the fidelity of implementation using an observation rating form.

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear models (HLM) will be used to examine the effects of the Proactive Reading intervention curriculum on students with mild and moderate mental retardation. Analyses will include examining change in academic performance over time taking into account time nested within students and students nested within teacher/school. All levels of nesting will be assessed for relative impact of child, teacher, and school factors that affect academic achievement.

* The dollar amount includes funds from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and NCSER.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Allor, J.H., Champlin, T.M., Gifford, D.B., and Mathes, P.G. (2010). Methods for Increasing the Intensity of Reading Instruction for Students With Intellectual Disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45(4): 500–511.

Allor, J.H., Gifford, D.B., Al Otaiba, S., Miller, S.J., and Cheatham, J.P. (2013). Teaching Students With Intellectual Disability to Integrate Reading Skills: Effects of Text and Text-Based Lessons. Remedial and Special Education, 34(6): 346–356. doi:10.1177/0741932513494020

Allor, J.H., Mathes, P., Roberts, K., Cheatham, J.P., and Al Otaiba, S. (2014). Is Scientifically Based Reading Instruction Effective for Students With Below-Average IQs?. Exceptional Children, 80(3): 287–306. doi:10.1177/0014402914522208

Allor, J.H., Mathes, P.G., Champlin, T., and Cheatham, J.P. (2009). Research-Based Techniques for Teaching Early Reading Skills to Students With Intellectual Disabilities. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44(3): 356–366.

Allor, J.H., Mathes, P.G., Jones, F.G., Champlin, T.M., and Cheatham, J.P. (2010). Individualized Research-Based Reading Instruction for Students With Intellectual Disabilities: Success Stories. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(3): 6–12.

Allor, J.H., Mathes, P.G., Roberts, J.K., Cheatham, J.P., and Champlin, T.M. (2010). Comprehensive Reading Instruction for Students With Intellectual Disabilities: Findings From the First Three Years of a Longitudinal Study. Psychology in the Schools, 47(5): 445–466. doi:10.1002/pits.20482

Allor, J.H., Mathes, P.G., Roberts, J.K., Jones, F.G., and Champlin, T.M. (2010). Teaching Students With Moderate Intellectual Disabilities to Read: An Experimental Examination of a Comprehensive Reading Intervention. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45(1): 3–22.