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IES Grant

Title: RAISE: Reading Accommodations and Interventions for Students with Emergent Literacy
Center: NCSER Year:
Principal Investigator: Browder, Diane Awardee: University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Program: Unsolicited and Other Awards: Special Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 1/1/2005 to 12/31/2009 Award Amount: $3,500,000.00*
Award Number: H324K040004

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

Purpose: The RAISE (Reading and Accommodations Interventions for Students with Emergent Literacy) research project is a partnership between the University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), and LifeSpan Community Services (LS) to conduct scientifically based research to evaluate interventions to teach reading to students with moderate and severe mental retardation (MR) in grades K–3.

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

  1. What is the effect of a phonics-based curriculum on literacy skills of students with moderate/severe cognitive disabilities?
  2. What is the effect of length of treatment on outcomes?
  3. What is the effect of the story-based lessons?
  4. What is the practical significance of the levels of literacy attained by the students?

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:

  1. Peer-reviewed journal publications,
  2. Presentations to a broad audience of consumers such as professional conferences, teachers, and policy makers, and
  3. A reading curriculum for students with moderate to significant cognitive disabilities.

Setting: Participating students will be from North Carolina.

Population: Approximately 100–150 students with moderate to severe mental retardation with no or minimal communication skills will participate. The RAISE intervention will be administered to students in grades Kindergarten - grade 3 by special education teachers in small group settings.

Intervention: The experimental intervention is a curriculum developed called the Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB). The objectives for this curriculum were derived from research on phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, and early literacy. There are 8 levels of the curriculum and students proceed to the next level once mastery has been achieved. Target skills at each level are as follows: 1) Receptive identification of a small sight word vocabulary; 2) pointing to text as it is read by the teacher; 3) completion of a sentence by pointing to correct picture; 4) choosing from an array of pictures to demonstrate listening comprehension for a short passage of text that is read; 5) tapping out the number of syllables in a word as it is said; 6) identifying letter-sound correspondence by pointing to pictures that begin with the sound; 7) identifying first and last sounds; 8) indicating segmentation by tapping out sounds in words as segmented by the teacher and identifying a picture of the word that is segmented (blending); and 9) receptive identification of a small picture vocabulary (generalized to multiple pictures for the same concept).

The classroom teacher conducts all reading instruction after training. Teachers also receive ongoing classroom consultation to ensure procedural fidelity. All students (experimental and control) receive story-based lessons that target active participation in the reading of books selected from their grade level literature. Teachers receive training in a task analysis for promoting participation in the reading of a story. Students receive instruction on print awareness, listening comprehension, and word awareness. Teachers conduct story-based lessons in a small group format (2–4 students). Teachers also receive training in how to support students for story-based lessons in general education classrooms during reading instruction.

Research Design and Methods: An experimental group design will be employed to evaluate the effectiveness of the RAISE programs on students with moderate and severe mental retardation. The students will be randomly assigned to experimental or control conditions.

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

Key Measures: The effects of the RAISE program on reading outcomes for students with moderate and severe mental retardation will be evaluated using a battery of commercial and non-commercial measures. Key pre-post intervention measures include, for example, the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), Test of Early Reading Ability (TERA), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and the American Association of Mental Retardation Adaptive Behavior Communication subtest. In addition, data will be collected on the fidelity of implementation for the RAISE program.

Data Analytic Strategy: A combination of quantitative and qualitative data analysis strategies will be utilized to demonstrate evidence of the potential efficacy of the RAISE program for use with K-3 students with moderate or severe mental retardation. Quantitative data analysis techniques, including a mixed three-factor design with and without group assignment and structural equation modeling will be used to address the research questions. Finally, qualitative analyses will examine the responses of parents, teachers, and students to the reading intervention.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Baker, J.N., Spooner, F., Flowers, C., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., and Browder, D.M. (2010). A Measure of Emergent Literacy for Students With Severe Developmental Disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47(5): 501–513. doi:10.1002/pits.20486

Browder, D.M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G., Gibbs, S.L., and Flowers, C. (2008). Evaluation of the Effectiveness of an Early Literacy Program for Students With Significant Developmental Disabilities. Exceptional Children, 75(1): 33–52.

Browder, D.M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Flowers, C., and Baker, J.N. (2012). An Evaluation of a Multicomponent Early Literacy Program for Students With Severe Developmental Disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 33(4): 237–246. doi:10.1177/0741932510387305

Browder, D.M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Spooner, F., and Baker, J. (2009). Using Time Delay to Teach Literacy to Students With Severe Developmental Disabilities. Exceptional Children, 75(3): 343–364.

Browder, D.M., Gibbs, S.L., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G., Mraz, M., and Flowers, C. (2008). Literacy for Students With Severe Developmental Disabilities: What Should we Teach and What Should we Hope to Achieve?. Remedial and Special Education, 30(5): 269–282. doi:10.1177/0741932508315054

Browder, D.M., Lee, A., and Mims., P. (2011). Using Shared Stories and Individual Response Modes to Promote Comprehension and Engagement in Literacy for Students With Multiple, Severe Disabilities.

Browder, D.M., Mims, P.J., Spooner, F., and Ahlgrim, L. (2008). Teaching Elementary Students With Multiple Disabilities to Participate in Shared Stories. Research and Practice for Persons With Severe Disabilities, 33(1): 3–12.

Mims, P.J., Browder, D.M., Baker, J.N., Lee, A., and Spooner, F. (2009). Increasing Comprehension of Students With Significant Intellectual Disabilities and Visual Impairments During Shared Stories. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44(3): 409–420.

Spooner, F., Rivera, C.J., Browder, D.M., Baker, J.N., and Salas, S. (2009). Teaching Emergent Literacy Skills Using Cultural Contextual Story-Based Lessons. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 34(3): 102–112.

Nongovernment report, issue brief, or practice guide

Browder, D., Gibbs, S., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G., and Lee, A. (2007). Early Literacy Skills Builder. Verona, WI: Attainment Company.

Lee, A., Mims, P.J., and Browder, D.M. (2011). Pathways to Literacy. Verona, WI: Attainment Company.

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