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IES Grant

Title: The Development and Pilot Testing of an Intensive Tier 3 Reading Intervention in the Early Grades
Center: NCSER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Nelson, Nancy Awardee: Boston University
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2021 – 6/30/2025) Award Amount: $2,000,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A210296

Previous Award Number: R324A210257
Previous Awardee: University of Oregon
Co-Principal Investigators: Santoro, Lana Edwards; Baker, Scott K.; Fine, Hank; Kosty, Derek

Purpose: The purpose of this grant is to iteratively develop and pilot test an intensive Tier 3 reading intervention for use with students in kindergarten through second grade (K–2) in the early stages of reading development. Research provides clear direction on effective Tier 2 reading interventions in the early grades, but few studies demonstrate impact with students who require more intense intervention. The Tier 3 intervention will be for students who do not respond adequately to core and supplemental reading instruction or who are otherwise at risk for word-level reading difficulties, including students identified with disabilities and dyslexia.

Project Activities: In Year 1, researchers will develop the Tier 3 intervention. Using brief teaching and learning trials (BTLT), project staff and teachers will work together to develop and refine the intervention. Both teachers and project staff will teach lessons for evaluation and refinement and contribute to the intervention prototype. In development meetings, project staff and teachers will work together to finalize lesson prototypes. During the summer prior to year 2, the project staff will refine the intervention based on spring BTLT implementation data collected in Year 1. In Year 2, researchers will conduct a feasibility study. Data from the feasibility study will be used to refine intervention lessons and the observation system in preparation for the pilot study. In Years 3 and 4, the researchers will conduct a pilot study to determine if the Tier 3 intervention can be implemented as intended and its promise for generating beneficial student outcomes.

Products: A fully developed Tier 3 reading intervention for students in grades K–2, as well as peer-reviewed publications and products to share study findings with stakeholders. The target audience for these products includes principals, teachers, and interventionists in elementary schools; parents of elementary age students; and researchers and policy makers seeking to improve the implementation and study of evidence-based reading interventions within the context of MTSS.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Three types of studies will be conducted: Brief Teaching and Learning Trials (BTLTs), a Feasibility study, and a Pilot study. Two schools in Oregon in Year 1 will participate in BTLTs. Four schools in Year 2, eight schools in Year 3, and eight schools in Year 4 will be in Michigan, where the feasibility and pilot studies will occur.

Sample: Students and two types of teachers will participate in Oregon and Michigan. Teacher-researchers will assist with studies and work with the project's expert coaches to coach teacher interventionists, while teacher interventionists will implement the Tier 3 intervention and provide feedback to support revision. Student participants will have severe word-level reading difficulties. Teacher recommendations will help identify students in the BTLT and feasibility studies. In the pilot study, students will be assessed on screening and placement tests then randomly assigned to Tier 3 intervention or a business as usual (BAU) comparison group.

Intervention/Factors/Assessment: The Tier 3 intervention has four main components: (a) reading content, (b) executive functioning supports, (c) instructional design elements, and (d) instructional delivery features. All components are integrated in daily Tier 3 reading intervention lessons and all four are designed to account for unique aspects of students who struggle with reading development.

Research Design and Methods: Design experiment methods will be used to develop and refine the intervention in the BTLT and feasibility studies. Multiple qualitative and quantitative data sources will be used to guide the iterative development and assess feasibility of the Tier 3 intervention. In the pilot study, a randomized controlled trial will be used to estimate the promise of the intervention for improving student reading outcomes.

Control Condition: The comparison group will receive business-as-usual (BAU) Tier 3 reading interventions. We expect these to include a mix of teacher-developed materials, protocols, and packaged intervention materials. Using instructional logs, we will document features of the BAU to characterize the counterfactual and interpret results.

Key Measures: The Classroom Observations of Student-Teacher Interactions measure will be used to assess instructional practices across conditions. The Ratings of Classroom Management and Instructional Support Likert-type scale instrument will be used to measure general features of classroom management, delivery of instruction, and the learning environment. The Quality of Explicit Instruction instrument will be used to rate the explicitness of instruction in five critical areas of beginning reading. During the pilot study, teachers across conditions will complete an implementation log to capture information about the lesson used to characterize the counterfactual and analyze cost. Coaches' logs will also be used to collect data on coaching fidelity. Student reading outcomes will be measured with the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test–Third Edition. Surveys and focus groups will assess intervention feasibility, usability, and satisfaction.

Data Analytic Strategy: Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected and analyzed to develop and refine the intervention and determine the promise of the intervention. We will summarize qualitative data from focus groups and open-ended survey questions using NVivo software and summarize quantitative data to observe trends and variability in intervention ratings. Our student outcomes analysis will nest students within instructional groups using a mixed-model Time Condition (TC) analysis. The TC model will test differences by condition in student gains in reading performance from pre- to post-intervention.

Cost Analysis: Our cost analysis will involve separating direct costs and indirect opportunity costs and isolating fixed and marginal costs. We will assess total versus net costs, where net costs include only those costs beyond the status quo, and we will perform a sensitivity analysis to test assumptions and potentially variable cost estimates. We will then clarify the expected initial costs and costs for the reasonable lifespan of the program.

Related IES Projects:
The Story Read Aloud Project: The Development of an Innovative Instructional Approach to Promote Comprehension and Vocabulary in First Grade Classrooms (R305G020057)

The Read Aloud Curriculum in First Grade Classrooms: Furthering Our Understanding of Immediate and Long-Term Impacts and Causal Influences (R305G050216)

Project ECRI: Enhancing Core Reading Instruction in First Grade (R324A090104)

Evaluating a State-Level Initiative to Implement Supplemental Academic and Behavior Interventions in an Integrated Multi-Tiered System of Supports (R324L180014)

Effectiveness Replication of Enhanced Core Reading Instruction (ECRI)(R324R210009)