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IES Grant

Title: Project LISTO: A Longitudinal Investigation of Reading Risk for Adolescent Newcomer English Learners
Center: NCSER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Miciak, Jeremy Awardee: University of Houston
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2022–06/30/2026) Award Amount: $1,696,403
Type: Exploration Award Number: R324A220038

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to explore English reading risk among adolescent newcomer English learners (ELs) across their first 2 years of enrollment in U.S. middle schools. A newcomer EL is defined as a student who initially enrolls in a U.S. school without completing a prior year of instruction in a U.S. school and is classified as limited English proficient at school entry. Few studies have examined reading risk with this population and existing risk models may not be useful due to the complexity of the diverse language and prior education experiences in this population. This project has three primary aims: (1) characterize typical reading and language development for adolescent newcomer ELs in their first 2 years of U.S. school enrollment, (2) identify adolescent newcomer ELs who are at high risk for reading difficulties and who may require intensive interventions, and (3) investigate associations between early intensive reading intervention for newcomer ELs at significant risk for reading difficulties (including reading disabilities) and improved reading and language outcomes. Researchers will use the data to predict which newcomers may have difficulties learning to read in English based on their performance when they enroll in a U.S. school, their education history, and other relevant student demographics. These results will help schools identify reading risk more efficiently and will shed light on whether schools can improve high-risk newcomer ELs' reading development by providing intensive interventions soon after enrollment. The results can inform current district and school practices as well as the development of future interventions for newcomer ELs.

Project Activities: The research team will collect reading and language data for two cohorts of adolescent newcomer ELs to characterize their skill development in reading and language, determine what factors best predict who will struggle to learn to read in English, and determine whether an intensive English reading intervention leads to better outcomes for newcomers who were identified as at risk in their first year of school.

Products: Products from this project will include an understanding of how to identify reading risk development for adolescent newcomer ELs; a publicly available dataset for use in secondary analyses; and dissemination through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations, student reports and targeted professional development for schools and districts, and University of Houston research centers and the Texas Education Agency's professional development network.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in middle schools in Texas.

Sample: Approximately 600 newcomer ELs enrolled in 16 participating middle schools will be recruited to participate in the study across two cohorts. Students will be eligible to participate if they have not previously completed a year of instruction in a U.S. school and demonstrate limited English proficiency based on school criteria.

Factors: Factors explored in this project include English and Spanish reading (decoding, fluency, comprehension) and language (vocabulary, sentence recall, and oral comprehension) skills as well as demographic (initial EL status and other school and student demographics) and instructional (language of instruction, reading intervention) factors that may moderate reading and language trajectories.

Research Design and Methods: The study will use a two-cohort, non-overlapping longitudinal design across participants' first 2 years of U.S. school enrollment. For Aim 1, researchers will characterize typical developmental trajectories in English reading and language among middle school newcomer ELs in Cohort 1. To continue refining these models of developmental trajectory in the following year, researchers will add data for Cohort 1 in their second year of school as well as the data from the first year of Cohort 2. Aim 1 data and analyses will inform the work planned for Aim 2, which is to identify adolescent newcomer ELs in Cohort 2 who are at high risk for reading difficulties and who may require intensive interventions. Finally, for Aim 3 the research team will work with schools to provide the most at-risk newcomers (those identified the previous year from Cohort 2) with early intensive reading intervention. The intervention used for Aim 3 will be Reading Intervention for Secondary English Learners (RISE), a comprehensive reading intervention developed by the researchers, which combines materials and routines from the existing Rewards Intermediate and Rewards Plusintervention with additional routines for language and knowledge development appropriate for adolescent newcomer ELs (such as incorporating visual images, brief videos, and graphic organizers). Researchers will use a regression discontinuity design to explore whether the intervention reduces newcomer risk. Researchers will also assess fidelity of intervention implementation factors that may be related to reduced newcomer risk.

Control Condition: For the regression discontinuity design (Aim 3), students who do not meet criteria for risk (but who meet other eligibility criteria) will be in the comparison group that does not receive the intensive intervention.

Key Measures: Reading and language outcome measures used in this study will include the following: (1) Woodcock Johnson III assessment battery administered in both English and Spanish (Word ID subtest to measure word reading accuracy and Understanding Directions, Story Recall, and Picture Vocabulary subtests to measure oral reading language and vocabulary); (2) AIMSweb CBM-Reading in English and in Spanish to measure oral reading fluency; (3) Gates MacGinitie Reading Test in English to measure reading comprehension; (4) STAR Reading in English for progress monitoring; and (5) the Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (administered in Spanish at school entry to assess cross-disciplinary academic language in students' native language and again in English following 1 and 2 years of U.S. school enrollment). In addition to language outcomes, the project team will measure factors that may be related to newcomer risk. Data on contextual measures of language of instruction will be collected using the Bilingual Timed Observation and Student Engagement Instrument. Information about student's academic history will be collected using the Students with Interrupted Formal Education Oral Interview Questionnaire. Student reading and language data from state assessments will be collected from The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness in Reading and Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System. Student demographic data will be collected directly from participating schools. Fidelity of intervention implementation will be measured with the researcher developed RISE fidelity instrument.

Data Analytic Strategy: For Aim 1, the research team will utilize latent growth curves to evaluate developmental trajectories in reading and language with robust standard errors. For Aim 2, researchers will use multivariate predictive risk models, including the identification of optimal thresholds for reading risk. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses will be used to identify optimal cut points for risk predictors. For Aim 3, researchers will use regression discontinuity models to determine the effects of early intensive intervention on reading and language development for high-risk newcomer ELs.

Cost Analysis: The research team will collect costs associated with assessment and intervention activities through monthly tracking forms and estimate relevant costs across various units (student, school, district, region). They will then compare these estimates to current practice using data collected on business-as-usual assessment and services for newcomers prior to the start of the study.