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IES Grant

Title: Effectiveness of Leveled Literacy Intervention Intermediate for Third and Fourth Grade Students with Reading Difficulties or Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Wanzek, Jeanne Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (7/1/2021 – 6/30/2026) Award Amount: $3,799,815
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R324A210021

Co-Principal Investigator: Sharon Vaughn, The University of Texas at Austin

Purpose The project aims to test the efficacy of the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Intermediate in third and fourth grade. Researchers will conduct a randomized control trial to examine: (a) the efficacy of LLI Intermediate for third grade students with reading difficulties or disabilities relative to a business-as-usual comparison group, (b) the efficacy of an intensive implementation of LLI Intermediate over 2 years (3rd and 4th grade), (c) short- and long-term outcomes to determine whether the effects are educationally meaningful to students, and (d) moderators of student response to intervention. A significant number of students struggle to successfully read and understand grade level text in third grade and beyond. However, there is very limited information on intensive implementations of reading intervention that may be needed for students with or at-risk for reading disabilities at the upper elementary level. The results of the study will provide information on the effectiveness, and factors affecting the effectiveness, of an intervention already in use or being considered. In addition, the findings will add to the limited research base on intensive interventions for intermediate grade students with significant reading difficulties or disabilities.

Project Activities Students will be randomized to receive LLI Intermediate or business as usual comparison in small groups of 4 students daily in 45-minute sessions for 24 weeks (120 sessions). Following intervention, student outcomes will be measured. Third grade students participating in the intervention will continue in their randomly assigned condition (LLI Intermediate or comparison) for a second year in fourth grade. Following the two years of intervention implementation (end of fourth grade), student outcomes will be measured. Researchers will examine students' initial reading achievement as a moderator of response to the intervention. In addition, researchers will measure classroom teacher perceptions of behavior/attention to determine whether they moderate student response to the intensive intervention provided over 2 years. They will also examine implementation outcomes as a mediator of treatment effects.

Products Products include information about the efficacy of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Intermediate. The project will also result in a final data set, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders, such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting This randomized, controlled trial will take place in diverse elementary schools in Tennessee and Texas. Students will be selected from two Title I school districts serving large numbers of minority students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to provide the diversity necessary to generalize to the target population of students with reading difficulties or disabilities from a range of backgrounds (race, ethnicity, primary language diversity, and socioeconomic status).

Sample The study will include successive cohorts of 200 third grade students with reading difficulties or disabilities, totaling 400 students over two years.

Intervention/Factors/Assessment The multi-component LLI Intermediate reading intervention used in this study is in wide use, but it has never been rigorously evaluated at the third and fourth grade levels. LLI Intermediate is a supplemental intervention for students with reading difficulties or disabilities. The lessons include word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The intervention is provided daily for 45-minute sessions in small groups of 4 students.

Research Design and Methods Efficacy will be tested using a randomized control trial with students assigned randomly to experimental and comparison conditions. Researchers will examine the immediate (end of third grade) and long-term (beginning of fourth grade) effects after one year of implementation. They will also examine the long-term effects (beginning of fifth grade) after two years of implementation.

Control Condition Students randomly assigned to the comparison group will receive the reading intervention currently provided by the school.

Key Measures Key measures include Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Test Battery-III: Letter Word Identification, Word Attack, and Passage Comprehension; Test of Word Reading Efficiency: Word Reading Efficiency and Phonemic Decoding Efficiency; Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests: Reading Comprehension; and DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency. Researchers will collect data from observations and document review (such as lesson plans) on instructional practices implemented in the treatment and comparison conditions using LLI fidelity measures as well as parallel observation measures to directly compare critical features in conditions.

Data Analytic Strategy A series of latent difference models with students nested in clusters will be used to test for immediate and long-term differences between study conditions on measures of word recognition, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Multilevel modeling will be used to account for the clustering structure. Researchers will examine possible sources of variation that may affect student response or teacher/school implementation of the interventions through moderation and mediation analyses. For those outcomes that demonstrate a significant treatment effect, researchers will investigate potential moderators of this effectiveness to best describe how these student characteristics (initial reading achievement, behavior/attention) may interact and impact student outcomes. Researchers will also explore the effect of fidelity of implementation on the relationship between treatment and reading outcomes. These analyses will allow a more detailed description of how implementation of the intervention may interact and impact the outcomes.

Cost Analysis The costs of providing the LLI Intermediate program will be assessed using the ingredients approach. Researchers will catalogue resources that would be needed to replicate every aspect of LLI Intermediate beyond those already required for typical instruction. A cost effectiveness ratio will be used with the effect sizes resulting from study. The cost effectiveness ratio computed will represent the cost per one standard deviation gain (pre- to post-treatment) in each outcome measured for the treatment and comparison groups.