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IES Grant

Title: Iterative Replication of Read Well in First Grade
Center: NCSER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Solari, Emily Awardee: University of Virginia
Program: Research Grants Focused on Systematic Replication in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2025) Award Amount: $3,999,930
Type: Replication Effectiveness Award Number: R324R200014

Co-Principal Investigators: Wong, Vivian; Baker, Doris Luft; Richards Tutor, Catherine

Purpose: The goal of this project is to systematically replicate Read Well to investigate its impact on first grade children with reading difficulties. Read Well's impact was previously studied with positive outcomes indicated for letter names and sounds and word reading development in kindergarten. Despite these promising findings, there is a need for additional research to address unanswered questions and better understand the conditions under which the intervention is effective and for whom. As such, the current project will conduct a series of systematic replication studies to investigate Read Well's impact as a Tier 2 intervention for first grade students with reading difficulties, including those who are English language learners (ELLs). The project will examine the impacts of Read Well when implemented under routine (Systematic Replication 1) and ideal conditions (Systematic Replication 2) and explore differences in impacts across geographic sites with different student characteristics.

Project Activities: In Systematic Replication 1 the research team will examine the efficacy of Read Well under ideal conditions, when implemented by research staff, across three sites. Depending on the results from the first study, Systematic Replication 2 will either (a) evaluate the impact of Read Well when delivered by school personnel or (b) compare the impact of an enhanced version of the intervention when delivered by research staff versus school personnel. Findings will provide a better understanding of for whom and under which conditions Read Well works, as well as the costs and cost-effectiveness of Read Well under different conditions.

Products: The primary product of this project will be evidence of the impact of Read Well on the reading outcomes of first grade children with or at risk for reading disabilities across different implementation conditions and sites. 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 urban, suburban, and rural elementary schools that serve a high percentage of culturally and linguistically diverse students, including ELLs, in Virginia, Texas, and California.

Sample: Each replication study will include approximately 576 first grade students who demonstrate difficulties with reading on a screening measure. Students will be from 48 schools in 3 states (for an average of 12 students per school and 16 schools per state).

Intervention: Read Well is a commercially available, comprehensive reading program that addresses the following five areas of reading: phonological awareness, decoding, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The program is suitable for small-group instruction and includes continuous progress monitoring to allow interventionists to differentiate instruction based on individual students' needs. The small group lessons provide opportunities for students to use decoding strategies (including sounds review, new sound introduction, smooth and bumpy reading, sounding out smoothly, and tricky words), practice story reading to build fluency, acquire new vocabulary, and develop comprehension skills. A two-day training will be provided by the program's lead developer, and follow-up distance and in-person coaching will be provided to support interventionists as they implement the program.

Research Design and Methods: The effects of Read Well will be examined using a phased replication approach through two randomized controlled trials. Systematic Replication 1 will examine the efficacy of Read Well under ideal conditions, when implemented by research staff, across three sites. The focus for Systematic Replication 2 will be based on the results from the first study and in consultation from expert researchers. In general, if the findings from the first study are positive, Systematic Replication 2 will evaluate whether those positive effects are replicated when school personnel implement the intervention. If findings from the first study are not positive, the research team will make enhancements to Read Well and compare its impact when delivered by research staff or school personnel relative to the control. Across both replications, eligible students will be randomly assigned within schools (and within sites) to conditions. Data on student outcomes will be collected at baseline and post intervention. The data will be analyzed to determine the effects of Read Well on proximal (phonological processing and basic word reading) and distal (reading fluency, language, vocabulary, and listening and reading comprehension) student outcomes across implementation conditions and sites. They will also be used to explore whether the effects of Read Well are similar for proximal and distal outcome measures and for native English speakers and ELLs. The research team will also conduct cost and cost-effectiveness analyses of Read Well under different conditions.

Control Condition: Students randomly assigned to the business-as-usual condition will receive a reading intervention that is typically provided by their schools.

Key Measures: Measures will include child- and teacher-level demographics; a survey of teacher pedagogical knowledge; and two screening measures from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), phoneme segmentation fluency and nonsense word fluency. Proximal outcomes will be measured using the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (phonological processing), Woodcock-Johnson (basic word reading), and Test of Word Reading Efficiency (basic word reading). Distal outcomes will be measured using the DIBELs (oral reading fluency), Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-5 (language and listening comprehension), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (vocabulary), and Gray Oral Reading Tests (reading comprehension). Read Well fidelity measures will be used to evaluate the implementation of Read Well based on videotaped teacher instruction. Observational measures will be used to document typical reading instruction for both intervention and control students and the Documentation of School Reading Instruction will be used to measure the amount and nature of reading instruction and intervention provided to students by their school other than Read Well. Costs will be assessed through school-based data, document reviews, and interviews.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will conduct a series of empirical diagnostic checks to evaluate the extent to which the design assumptions for replication of effects specified in the Causal Replication Framework were met or violated. The effects of Read Well will be examined using a cross-site pooled model that accounts for the nested data structure. The team will also explore differential impacts for ELLs by estimating models that include a treatment-by-ELL interaction term. The correspondence framework will be used to test the replicability of effects. The research team will also analyze the costs and cost-effectiveness of Read Well under different implementation conditions.