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IES Grant

Title: Development of an Intervention to Improve Reading Efficiency for Students With or At Risk for Word-Reading Disability
Center: NCSER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Clemens, Nathan Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,399,910
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A200209

Co-Principal Investigators: Vaughn, Sharon; Roberts, Greg; Barnes, Marcia

Purpose: This project will develop an intervention to address a significant problem for students with word-level reading disability (WLRD; i.e., specific learning disability in basic reading, dyslexia): reading words and text with automaticity. There is evidence that (a) poor reading fluency is a consistent and persistent characteristic of WLRD across written languages, and (b) word- or text-reading fluency skills are particularly resistant to intervention. The intervention will address previously unmet needs for middle-elementary students with WLRD.

Project Activities: The researchers will iteratively develop an intervention utilizing a multicomponent base intervention program and systematically test the unique value and feasibility/social validity of a set of theoretically-based instructional practices aimed at improving students' word knowledge. These practices will specifically target students' ability to efficiently connect word spellings to pronunciations and meanings, which may improve students' ability to read words and text with greater automaticity. The development will also include usability and feasibility testing and a culminating pilot study to test the promise of the intervention for improving outcomes for students with WLRD.

Products: Products include a fully developed intervention for students with WRLD, results from the pilot study, a project website, a cost analysis of the costs associated with the intervention, and a cost-effectiveness analysis. 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 elementary schools in urban and suburban areas of central Texas.

Sample: Participants will include students in grades 2-4 who score below the 16th percentile on standardized measures of word- and sentence- reading efficiency. Approximately 360 students will participate, 90 per year of the project in Years 1 to 4.

Intervention: The intervention to be developed will draw from the lexical quality hypothesis, connectionist frameworks of word learning, and statistical learning hypotheses, with the goal of improving word knowledge, and in turn word- and text-reading efficiency. The intervention is built on a previously developed base program that includes systematic decoding instruction and reading practice. Across a series of studies, the project will test a set of additional instructional components which theory and evidence suggest may contribute to enhancing word- and text-reading efficiency for students with WLRD: (1) strategic word reading practice to enhance phonological-orthographic connections and knowledge of variable pronunciations; (2) embedded spelling instruction and practice to further strengthen orthographic-phonological connections; and (3) embedded vocabulary and word use instruction to strengthen phonological-orthographic-semantic connections. Analyses will be conducted to determine which components are associated with stronger word- and text-reading efficiency outcomes over the base program alone to finalize the intervention.

Research Design and Methods: During each of the first three years of the project the study is designed to determine main effects of the intervention that includes the additional theory-based components. Item-level and feasibility/social validity analyses will further determine the extent to which specific instructional and practice components are associated with stronger word- and text-reading efficiency on proximal and standardized measures, and thus should be "carried forward" to become part of the base program in subsequent years. The final intervention will consist of practices deemed beneficial, feasible, and acceptable in previous studies, and will be investigated in Year 4 in a pilot study utilizing a randomized controlled trial. The pilot study will compare the developed intervention to a repeated reading condition and a business-as-usual instruction condition.

Control Condition: The base intervention will serve as a comparison condition during the studies conducted in Years 1 to 3 of the project. In the Year 4 pilot study, the developed intervention will be compared to a repeated reading condition and school-designed business-as-usual instruction.

Key Measures: The student measures include researcher-developed proximal measures and standardized measures of fluency and orthographic search (Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency, 2nd Edition), reading words in list form (Sight Word Efficiency subtest of the Test of Word Reading Efficiency), sentence reading efficiency (Test of Silent Reading Efficiency and Comprehension), and oral reading fluency (Oral Reading Fluency subtest of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test). The Reading Comprehension subtest of the Gates-MacGinitie will be used as a measure of reading comprehension for the Year 4 pilot study.

Data Analytic Strategy: Standardized mean differences (Hedges' g) in word- and text-reading efficiency, feasibility and social validity ratings, and item-level analyses will be used to evaluate the relative efficacy of treatments in Years 1-3. The Year 4 pilot study analyses will include multilevel modeling and item-level analyses. A cost-effectiveness analysis of the refined intervention will be conducted in Year 4 using the ingredients method to determine the total cost and the cost per 1 SD gain in key outcomes over comparison interventions.