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IES Grant

Title: Developing an Instructional Leader Adaptive Intervention Model (AIM) for Supporting Teachers as They Integrate Evidence-Based Adolescent Literacy Practices School-Wide (Project AIM)
Center: NCSER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Wexler, Jade Awardee: University of Maryland, College Park
Program: Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,399,999
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A200012

Co-Principal Investigator: Swanson, Elizabeth; Roberts, Greg

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop an adaptive intervention model (AIM) used by instructional leaders to provide ongoing professional development (PD) to content-area middle school teachers as they implement Tier 1 evidence-based literacy practices. Significant numbers of adolescents do not adequately understand complex texts, impeding their school success, access to postsecondary learning, and job opportunities. The problem is even greater for students with disabilities, as evidenced by consistently low scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Although evidence-based literacy practices have the potential to impact reading outcomes for students with disabilities, teachers do not consistently and effectively implement these practices in their Tier 1 instruction. The current study aims to address this by developing a comprehensive intervention package that includes two innovations: (1) AIM, a multistage, adaptive intervention coaching model for supporting content-area middle school teachers' implementation of evidence-based Tier 1 literacy practices to improve reading outcomes for students with disabilities, and (2) PD to train instructional leaders on how to implement AIM effectively.

Project Activities: The research team will iteratively develop the AIM package over the first two years of the project. In Year 3, the final version of the intervention will be tested in a randomized controlled trial to determine its promise for improving teachers' knowledge of evidence-based literacy practices and students' reading outcomes. In Year 4, the research team will examine issues related to sustainability of the model.

Products: Products will include a fully developed AIM package to improve teachers' knowledge and reading outcomes for students with disabilities. The project will also result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in urban and near-urban middle schools in Maryland and Texas.

Sample: In Year 1, an advisory board of 6 instructional leaders as well as 10 teachers will provide input to inform intervention development. Additional teachers and instructional leaders from approximately 500 middle schools will complete surveys on the typical support teachers receive. In Year 2, two instructional leaders from the advisory board and the teachers in their school will field test the intervention. The remaining four instructional leaders from the advisory board will provide continued consultation. During the Year 3 pilot study, participants will include 8 instructional leaders (1 per school), 144 middle school teachers (of English language arts, social studies, or science), and approximately 468 students with disabilities who struggle with reading and are included in the general education setting. During Year 4, participants will include all 8 instructional leaders and treatment teachers from the Year 3 pilot study.

Intervention: The project will result in the development of the AIM package, a multistage process that starts with PD for instructional leaders and is followed by implementation of AIM that includes a set of (a) decision points, (b) tailoring variables, (c) decision rules, and (d) intervention options to help instructional leaders systematically support teachers' implementation of an evidence-based reading comprehension intervention called Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text (PACT). To implement AIM, instructional leaders provide the Stage 1 intervention for all teachers in weeks 1-4, which includes PD and standardized protocol support on implementing PACT. At week 5, leaders assess teachers' skill and will (tailoring variables) and apply decision rules. To determine how best to support teachers based on their profile of skill and will, instructional leaders will gather more information about factors influencing teachers' skill and will through a brief survey and follow-up interview. Leaders will then provide the Stage 2 intervention during weeks 6-9. This final stage includes three intervention support options. (1) High skill teachers will receive a less intensive version of Stage 1 with additional support by request. (2) For teachers with average/low skill and high will, instructional leaders will continue the Stage 1 support with more frequent check ins and supplementary interventions as needed (using the diagnostic information). (3) For average/low skill and low will teachers, Stage 2 intervention will be determined through the diagnostic information and will be designed to target teachers' low skill and will needs and reduce burden on instructional leaders.

Research Design and Methods: An iterative process will be used to guide the development and testing of the AIM package. In Year 1, the team will use a mixed-methods approach to develop and refine the AIM package and fidelity forms. The team will survey teachers and instructional leaders across the U.S. on the typical support teachers receive. Results will be interpreted by researchers, an advisory board of instructional leaders, and teachers and used to inform the development of AIM and PD for instructional leaders. The advisory board will also provide input on the initial versions of AIM and the PD. In Year 2, the team will conduct a field trial of the AIM package with two instructional leaders from the advisory board and the teachers in their school to get feedback on the feasibility, usability, and perceived effectiveness of the AIM package. Based on the results of the field trial and teacher and instructional leader feedback, the team will further revise the AIM package. In Year 3, the team will pilot test the final AIM package in a small randomized controlled trial to determine its promise for improving teacher and student outcomes. All teachers will receive training in PACT, but intervention teachers will receive AIM from instructional leaders and control teachers will receive typical support. In Year 4, the team will survey the instructional leaders and intervention teachers who participated in the pilot to determine the sustainability of AIM. They will also conduct an interview with each instructional leader as well as two teacher focus groups with a random sample of intervention teachers at the end of the year to learn about their perceptions of sustainability.

Control Condition: In the Year 3 pilot study, teachers in the control condition will be provided with business-as-usual support from school-based instructional leaders.

Key Measures: The research team will use a variety of measures during the iterative development process, including two researcher-developed measures to learn about typical support provided to teachers and districts' and schools' context, focus groups and interviews, and questionnaires to obtain feedback from instructional leaders and teachers on the AIM package. During the pilot study, the team will use measures that provide information on teacher perceptions of social validity and teacher knowledge. Student outcomes will be assessed using curriculum-based measures on the content taught in their classes and the Test of Sentence Reading Efficiency and Comprehension. A variety of measures will be used to assess fidelity of the AIM package (instructional leader PD, leaders' implementation of AIM, and teachers' implementation of PACT), including logs from instructional leaders, checklists, and audio recordings. A researcher designed measure will be used to assess sustainability in Year 4. Data on ingredients for the cost analysis will be gathered through reviews of program documentation and budgets, interviews with project personnel, and surveys and interviews with school personnel.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data will be coded for themes. Quantitative data from the iterative design process (Years 1–2) and sustainability year (Year 4) will be analyzed descriptively and used to inform intervention development and refinement and future sustainability studies. Multilevel regression models will be used to evaluate data from the pilot study and determine the promise of the intervention for improving teacher and student outcomes. To determine the costs of the intervention, the research team will utilize the ingredients method. They will also determine the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

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