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IES Grant

Title: Precision in Response to Intervention Models: Variations of Measurement, Instruction, Student Language, and Age
Center: NCSER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: O'Connor, Rollanda Awardee: University of California, Riverside
Program: Systems, Policy, and Finance      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/2007 – 6/30/2011 Award Amount: $1,990,072
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324B070098

Funded under the Response to Intervention topic prior to the establishment of the Systemic Interventions and Policies for Special Education topic.

Purpose: English-language learners are often inappropriately referred for special education services due to poor English language skills and poor reading skills. Inappropriate referrals needlessly increase special education costs. Response to intervention models for reading instruction have been developed to address this concern. These models hold significant promise for providing high quality instruction to all students, identifying students with disabilities early and reliably, and reducing the number of students inappropriately referred to special education. Although research on short-term effects of response to intervention models has shown improved reading achievement, teachers and administrators need models that have proven long-term effects on disability incidence and identification in subsequent grades and can be used for students who are English-language learners.

For this project, researchers are developing and investigating the long-term effects of two response to intervention models. The two models will be implemented in kindergarten through fourth grade in elementary schools that serve a significant portion of children from economically disadvantaged and/or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The models are a standard treatment variation (Complete Package Intervention) and a problem-solving variation (Tier 2 Targeted Intervention). The purpose of this study is to investigate the potential long-term effects of these two models on reading achievement and special education identification. Additionally, researchers will examine the relationship between the onset of implementation and student outcomes (i.e., whether outcomes are better if children entered the model in kindergarten as compared to first grade).

Project Activities: Schools will be randomly assigned to implementation of response to intervention in kindergarten or first grade. In addition, grades within schools will be randomly assigned to implement the Complete Package Intervention or the Tier 2 Targeted Intervention. The Complete Package Intervention focuses on important grade-level literacy components. In contrast, activities for the Tier 2 Targeted Intervention will be selected from the Complete Package Intervention but focus on a child's weaknesses. Data will be analyzed to compare the potential effect of the two response to intervention models and onset of their implementation on reading and language development over time and the incidence and types of disabilities identified.

Products: Expected products include response to intervention models that can be used in kindergarten through fourth grade. Additional products include reports and presentations on implementing response to intervention beginning in kindergarten as compared to first grade and incidence and types of disabilities identified.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are located in California.

Population: Approximately 170 kindergarten and first-grade students who demonstrate risk for reading difficulties based on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills benchmarks will participate in this study. In addition, students missed by kindergarten and first-grade risk screenings but who are determined in later grades to be at risk for reading difficulty will be folded into the study. Participating schools serve a significant portion of children from economically disadvantaged and/or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Intervention: Two interventions will be developed and implemented during this program of research.

The Complete Package Intervention includes all important grade-level literacy components and will be implemented by research staff to small groups of two to four students. Students in kindergarten will receive 20-minute intervention sessions three times per week, and students in grades 1 through 4 will receive 30-minute intervention sessions four times per week. Activities in kindergarten will be drawn from the second edition of the Ladders to Literacy program and will focus on segmentation of one-syllable spoken words, alphabet letters and their common sounds, selecting letters to represent sounds in segmented words, and vocabulary development. First-grade activities will be based on the Sound Partners program and will also include spelling and vocabulary-building activities. Second- and third-grade activities will emphasize word analysis, multi-syllable strategies, and comprehension strategies. Fourth-grade activities will be determined and developed in project's second and third years based upon needs of students when they are in second and third grade.

The Tier 2 Targeted Intervention, like the Complete Package Intervention, will be conducted in small groups, delivered in addition to general class instruction, and led by research personnel. It will be delivered at the same levels of frequency and duration as the Complete Package Intervention. While the activities at each grade level will be selected from the Complete Package Intervention, the Tier 2 Targeted Intervention will focus on students' specific areas of weakness. Therefore, intervention content will differ across small groups of students.

Research Design and Methods: Four schools will be randomly assigned to immediate implementation of response to intervention models in kindergarten or to delayed implementation in the beginning of first grade. In addition, grade levels within schools will be randomly assigned to receive either the Complete Package Intervention or the Tier 2 Targeted Intervention.

Control Condition: Children will receive either the Complete Package Intervention or the Tier 2 Targeted Intervention. In addition, the study will include historical comparison groups of students in grades 1 through 4 within all participating schools to determine the relationships between past instruction, student achievement, individual student growth, and special education placement.

Key Measures: A range of standardized, norm-referenced, and progress monitoring measures of language, spelling, and reading will be given. In addition, data related to fidelity of intervention implementation will be collected.

Data Analytic Strategy: Quantitative data analysis techniques and approaches, including analysis of covariance, hierarchical linear modeling, and moderator analyses, will be utilized to assess changes and model growth in reading and language over time and to determine predictor variables that are correlated with treatment outcomes.

Products and Publications

Book chapter

O'Connor, R.E., and Fuchs, L.S. (2013). Responsiveness to Intervention in the Elementary Grades: Implications for Early Childhood Education. In V. Buysee, and E. Peisner-Feinberg (Eds.), Handbook of Response to Intervention in Early Childhood (pp. 41–56). New York: Guilford Press.

O'Connor, R.E., and Sanchez, V. (2011). Issues in Assessment for Intervention in Implementation of Responsiveness to Intervention. In T. Scruggs, and M. Mastropieri (Eds.), Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities: Assessment and Intervention, Vol 24 (pp. 149–170). UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

O'Connor, R.E., and Sanchez, V. (2011). Responsiveness to Intervention Models for Reducing Reading Difficulties and Identifying Learning Disability. In J.M. Kauffman, and D.P. Hallahan (Eds.), Handbook of Special Education (pp. 123–133). Oxford, England: Routledge.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Ayala, S., and O'Connor, R.E. (2013). The Effects of Video Self-Modeling on the Decoding Skills of Children at Risk for Reading Disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 28(3): 142–154. doi:10.1111/ldrp.12012

Beach, K.D., and O'Connor, R.E. (2014). Developing and strengthening reading fluency and comprehension of poor readers in elementary school: A focused review of research. Perspectives on Language and Literacy: 17–19.

Beach, K.D., and O'Connor, R.E. (2015). Early Response-to-Intervention Measures and Criteria as Predictors of Reading Disability in the Beginning of Third Grade. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48(2): 196–223. doi:10.1177/0022219413495451

Linklater, D., O'Connor, R.E., and Palardy, G.P. (2009). Kindergarten Literacy Assessment of English Only and English Language Learner Students: An Examination of the Predictive Validity of Three Phonemic Awareness Measures. Journal of School Psychology, 47(6): 369–394. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2009.08.001

O'Connor, R.E. (in press, 2017). Reading fluency and students with reading disabilities: How fast is fast enough to promote reading comprehension? Journal of Learning Disabilities, doi: 10.1177/0022219417691835

O'Connor, R.E., and Klingner, J.K. (2010). Poor Responders in RTI. Theory into Practice, 49(4): 297–304. doi:10.1080/00405841.2010.510758

O'Connor, R.E., Bocian, K., Beach, K., and Sanchez, T. (2014). Access to a Responsiveness to Intervention Model: Does Beginning Intervention in Kindergarten Matter?. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(4): 307–328. doi:10.1177/0022219412459354

O'Connor, R.E., Bocian, K.M., Sanchez, V., Beach, K.D., and Flynn, L.J. (2013). Special Education in a 4–Year Response to Intervention (RtI) Environment: Characteristics of Students With Learning Disability and Grade of Identification. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 28(3): 98–112. doi:10.1111/ldrp.12013

Sanchez, V. and O'Connor, R.E. (2015). Building Tier 3 Intervention for Long-Term Slow Growers in Grades 3–4: A Pilot Study. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30(4): 171–181. doi:10.1111/ldrp.12085 Full text

Tran, L., Sanchez, T., Arellano, B., and Swanson, H.L. (2011). A Meta-Analysis of the RTI Literature for Children at Risk for Reading Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44(3): 283–295. doi:10.1177/0022219410378447