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IES Grant

Title: Effects of a Supplementary Vocabulary Intervention for Students With Limited English Proficiency
Center: NCER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Nelson, J. Ron Awardee: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Program: Reading and Writing      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $694,884
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A070045
Description:

Purpose: Since 1979 the number of students from homes where English is not the primary language has more than doubled from 6 million to 14 million, and children of immigrant parents now make up 22 percent of children under age six in the United States. Furthermore, this pattern is not restricted to a few geographic locations—the number of students from homes where English is not the primary language is growing rapidly in all states. Very little rigorous research exists on the effects of interventions to improve reading outcomes for students who are English language learners. In this study, researchers examine the relation between a supplemental English vocabulary program—Early Vocabulary Connections—and the beginning reading skills of students with limited English proficiency. This program is designed to provide explicit instruction on a small set of useful high frequency words that, although familiar to most English speaking students, may not be known by students with limited English proficiency. Early Vocabulary Connections has been designed so that it can be used in conjunction with existing general core beginning reading curricula.

Project Activities: Early Vocabulary Connections is intended to develop students' vocabulary knowledge and reinforce decoding skills that are taught in the core beginning reading curricula. Although fully developed, this program has not yet been evaluated using an experimental design. Thus, in this initial evaluation of the potential efficacy of the program, children are randomly assigned to small groups and the small groups are then randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions within schools: Early Vocabulary Connections or Interactive Book Reading, a research-based alternative treatment. The research team will assess student outcomes across the two-year study period. Student assessments include tests of alphabetics, spelling, word reading, vocabulary, and language proficiency (English and Spanish). The evaluation includes two cohorts of children. Children who participate in the intervention program in Year 1 will also be assessed at the end of Year 1 and the end of Year 2. The Year 2 assessment will allow to the researchers to estimate the long-term treatment effects of Early Vocabulary Connections.

Products: The products from this study will be published reports of the initial evaluation of Early Vocabulary Connections, a supplemental vocabulary intervention for children with limited English proficiency who are just learning to read.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: Although fully developed, this program has not yet been evaluated using an experimental design. This research project is intended to provide an initial evaluation of the potential efficacy of a supplemental English vocabulary program—Early Vocabulary Connections—in supporting the beginning reading skills of students with limited English proficiency.

Setting: The study is taking place in elementary schools in Nebraska.

Population: Study participants are Spanish-speaking kindergarten children.

Intervention: Early Vocabulary Connections integrates instructional components within each lesson to build students' vocabulary knowledge and reinforce decoding skills being taught in the core beginning reading curricula. The instructional components provide students multiple exposures to words to ensure their learning of word meanings. In addition to word blending and spelling activities, the newly learned words are then used in interesting and meaningful fully decodable texts to provide students with scaffolded decoding practice. The texts are written to illustrate the meaning of the word in a context that is meaningful to a young reader. The curriculum provides the teacher with a 12" by 10" presentation manual to present the lesson to small groups of children. Instructional prompts for the teacher are included and the instructional components in Early Vocabulary Connections have a predictable format. One target word is taught each day, a rate of direct instruction for vocabulary at which K-2 students can learn and retain word meanings. Teachers use a dialogic process to help students understand the meaning for target words through active engagement. The teacher alternates between being the listener or the questioner for students' explanations of the meaning for target words.

Control Condition: Children in the comparison group participate in Interactive Book Reading, a research-based alternative instructional strategy. This program focuses closely on vocabulary development. The same words are targeted for instruction each day in both the Early Vocabulary Connections and Interactive Book Reading experimental conditions.

Research Design and Method: A cluster randomized design is being used to assess student outcomes across the two-year study period. Two cohorts (one each project year) of 120 children each are participating. Children are randomly assigned to small groups (n = 3 to 4 children per group) and the small groups are then randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions within schools, Early Vocabulary Connections or Interactive Book Reading.

Key Measures: Student assessments include tests of alphabetics, spelling, word reading, vocabulary, and language proficiency (English and Spanish). Each cohort is pretested and posttested during the intervention year.

Data Analytic Strategy: The key research questions will be examined with a multilevel modeling approach. Data analyses will occur annually and cumulatively. After the completion of the first year of intervention, data from Cohort 1 will be analyzed to test for treatment condition differences. Upon completion of the second year of intervention, data from Cohort 2 will be analyzed for treatment condition differences. Data from Cohort 2 will then be combined with data from Cohort 1 for final analyses, which will also include an analysis of Cohort 1's follow-up data.

Related IES Projects:Efficacy of Supplemental Early Vocabulary Connections Instruction for English Language Learners (R305A110343)

Publications from this project:

Nelson, J.R., Vadasy, P., and Sanders, E.A. (2011). Efficacy Of A Tier 2 Supplemental Root Word Vocabulary and Decoding Intervention With Kindergarten Spanish-Speaking English Learners. Journal of Literacy Research, 43 (2):184 - 211.

Vadasy, P.F., Nelson, J., and Sanders, E.A. (2013). Longer Term Effects Of A Tier 2 Kindergarten Vocabulary Intervention For English Learners. Remedial and Special Education, 34 (2): 91–101.


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