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IES Grant

Title: An Effectiveness Replication of Targeted Reading Instruction: Investigating Long-Term Student and Teacher Impacts
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Wisniewski, Robin Awardee: RTI International
Program: Research Grants Focused on Systematic Replication      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2021 - 06/30/2026) Award Amount: $4,499,963
Type: Replication Effectiveness Award Number: R305R210007

Co-Principal Investigators: Hong, Yihua; Aiken, Heather; and Bratsch-Hines, Mary

Purpose: Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI, formerly called Targeted Reading Intervention) is a teacher professional development (PD) program with an embedded student reading intervention. Hundreds of TRI classroom teachers have helped K–2 students learn to read. TRI is one of the few reading programs in the US displaying strong evidence of effectiveness in both decoding and reading comprehension, as confirmed by What Works Clearinghouse. This study will be the first to test TRI's long-term effectiveness. Grade 1 teachers will receive TRI initial PD and then weekly webcam coaching support as they serve students struggling with reading. Students and teachers will be followed for 2 additional years to test TRI's long-term impacts on reading achievement and reading instruction. Early elementary teachers who provide effective evidence-based reading instruction will be vital in helping students who might otherwise experience reading failure, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Project Activities: Participants will include 120  grade 1 teachers and their students in rural Title I schools in North Carolina and/or South Carolina. The research team will randomly assign teachers to treatment (TRI) and control (business-as-usual) conditions. They will follow students from grade 1 into grade 3, and follow teachers for 2 years after participating in TRI. They  will use intent-to-treat hierarchical linear models to test the short-term and long-term gains due to TRI.

Products: This project will provide further evidence of the impacts of the TRI early literacy PD program on student literacy outcomes. The research team will produce all TRI materials, as well as peer-reviewed publications, reports, and social media updates to disseminate their findings.

Structured Abstract

Setting:  This project will include 30 elementary Title I schools in rural North Carolina and/or South Carolina.

Sample: Participants include  grade 1 classroom teachers (n = 120) and their students who struggle with reading (n = 360).

Intervention: TRI is a PD program designed to help classroom teachers acquire key diagnostic reading instruction strategies differentiated to meet the exact needs of individual students who are struggling with early reading. The research team will provide interactive training and TRI materials to treatment teachers at the beginning of the school year. Following training, each TRI teacher will provide an individual struggling reader with 6 to 8 weeks of 15-minute daily one-on-one instruction. Over the course of an academic year, the teacher will work with three selected students, learning how to tailor each lesson to match each struggling reader's specific needs. Every week, a literacy coach will use webcam technology to watch and record a 15-minute one-on-one TRI lesson and provide real-time feedback to guide teacher implementation. 

Research Design and Methods: In this cluster randomized controlled trial, the evaluation team will randomly assign grade 1 teachers to treatment and control conditions within schools across two cohorts (N = 120). The research team will recruit three struggling readers in each treatment and control classroom will be recruited in grade 1 and followed to the end of grade 3. Treatment teachers will receive training and coaching only during the implementation year, and all grade 1 teachers will be followed for 2 additional years to test TRI impacts during and after implementation. The research team will observe teachers' reading instruction quality in the fall of the first year and spring of all 3 years, and then receive state evaluation data about their reading instruction performance for all 3 years. The team will assess student reading and language skills in the fall of grade 1 and in the spring of grades 1 through 3, and state-mandated tests of reading skills in grade 3 will be accessed, again to test short- and long-term TRI impacts.

Control Condition: Grade 1 classroom teachers in the control condition will provide a business-as-usual control setting, allowing for estimation of the added value of TRI over and above current instructional practices for struggling readers.

Key Measures: The research team will administer standardized reading and language assessments to students. Parents will complete a demographic survey. Teachers' reading instruction will be observed, and they will be asked to complete a survey describing their training, experience, reading instructional practices, perceived school support, and demographics. Fidelity of implementation will be observed in treatment classrooms by coaches for monitoring implementation and by the evaluation team for coding and analyzing. Costs will be estimated for TRI and business as usual by combining data on resources used, obtained from implementation data and study records, with unit cost estimates obtained from public sources and study records.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use hierarchical linear models (HLMs)  to  test TRI's impact on teachers' reading instruction in grade 1 over 3 years and on students' decoding, oral language, fluency, and reading comprehension from grade 1 to the end of grade 3. HLMs will account for nesting of students in classrooms and teachers in districts. Primary analyses will test TRI impacts, and exploratory analyses will examine child, teacher, and school factors as moderators.

Cost Analysis: The research team will estimate costs using the ingredients approach and they will collect cost information  in all 3 years of the study. They  will conduct cost-effectiveness analysis to estimate the incremental costs of TRI compared with the control group and to evaluate the extent to which TRI is cost-effective for improving both student and teacher outcomes.

Related IES Projects: National Research Center on Rural Education Support (R305A040056);The Targeted Reading Intervention: A Web-Based Professional Development Program Targeting K-1 Classroom Teachers and Their Struggling Readers (R305A100654); Investigating the Efficacy of a Web-Based Early Reading Intervention Professional Development Program for K-1 English Learners (R305A160255)