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IES Grant

Title: Project GROW
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Al Otaiba, Stephanie Awardee: Southern Methodist University
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,399,721
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A200397

Co-Principal Investigator: Rivas, Brenna

Purpose: In this project, the research team will design and test an innovative, feasible, and promising whole-class read-aloud intervention that can improve, or "grow", kindergartners' knowledge of taught academic vocabulary, their generalized vocabulary knowledge, listening and reading comprehension, and phonological awareness. A secondary goal of the intervention is to enhance social-emotional learning (SEL) competence. The research team will select books with engaging illustrations of targeted vocabulary, multi-cultural characters/settings, themes of SEL competencies, and coherent texts.

Project Activities: Researchers will follow a systematic iterative design process, followed by assessments of feasibility and the promise of the intervention. Phases 1 through 3 involve iterative development to design book units, proximal assessments, and teacher training. Researchers will complete a field test to determine the feasibility of the intervention for use with kindergarteners in low-income schools. Once the intervention is fully developed, the research team will carry out a pilot test of the intervention using a randomized controlled trial design. They will also complete a cost analysis.

Products: Researchers will produce a fully developed whole-class read-aloud intervention, Project GROW. The research team will create professional videos of effective teacher implementation. Finally, researchers will present results at researcher and practitioner-oriented conferences and publish findings in peer reviewed journals.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in kindergarten classrooms in low-income public schools in two districts in Dallas, Texas.

Sample: Researchers will recruit 2 schools for initial development activities (4 teachers and 6 students per classroom in Phases 2 and 3) and will recruit 10 new schools for the pilot study and 28 teachers (14 treatment classrooms, 14 business-as usual (BAU) classrooms). Researchers will assess a subset of students in each classroom during the pilot study. Assessment will include nine students per classroom.

Intervention: Project GROW will train teachers to incorporate three research-based components to improve the quality and effectiveness of read-aloud activities: (1) explicit academic vocabulary instruction, (2) dialogic read-aloud with interactive discussions on the literal and inferential meanings of vocabulary and texts, and (3) teacher-led and peer-pair interactive vocabulary application activities. To support fidelity of implementation, the research team will develop a manualized intervention with 16 book units, each designed to be delivered in three 30-minute sessions within a week, with professional development (PD) procedures. The fully developed Project GROW will include teacher training/professional development, proximal assessments, and a fidelity of implementation checklist for kindergarten student, as well as the intervention materials.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will iteratively development (design, field test, observe, revise) book units, proximal assessments, and teacher training. Researchers will assess usability and feasibility of individual Project GROW book units in authentic kindergarten delivery settings. In the final phase, researchers will pilot test the intervention with teachers (end-users) implementing the entire 16-week intervention. During the pilot, they will explore both feasibility and the promise of the intervention. During the pilot test, researchers will randomly assign 28 classrooms within 10 schools to the treatment or BAU condition. Students will be assessed at pre- and post-intervention.

Control Condition: Teachers in the business-as-usual condition (BAU) read aloud to children using books of their own choice, following their usual routine.

Key Measures: Iterative design process measures include focus group interviews, ratings, and observations about feasibility. For the pilot study, primary student measures administered by staff will include taught vocabulary definitions and generalized literacy measures of vocabulary, listening and reading comprehension, and phonological awareness. Secondary measures are SEL ratings administered by teachers. The research team will observe fidelity using a standardized tool for read-aloud quality (Systematic Assessment of Book Reading; SABR) in treatment and control classrooms.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will employ both qualitative and quantitative analyses. They will use qualitative methods to evaluate feasibility and usability. For the pilot study, the research team will incorporate a quantitative approach that uses multi-level modeling to compare intervention with BAU students on proximal and distal reading and SEL outcomes. They will examine initial risk as a moderator. In addition, they will also analyze costs and cost-effectiveness.

Cost Analysis: As part of the pilot study, the researchers will collect and analyze data on the non-reoccurring development costs and routine implementation costs to determine the cost of implementing the intervention. They will also gather cost information about the business-as-usual condition for comparison purposes.

Related Projects: Project FOCUS: Exploring Response to Intervention with a Focus on Students Receiving Tier 3 and Special Education for Reading Disabilities (R324A160132)