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IES Grant

Title: Turning the TIDE: Building Teacher Capacity to Accelerate Text-Based Writing Performance of Students With and At Risk for Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Collins, Alyson Awardee: Texas State University
Program: Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2022 – 6/30/2026) Award Amount: $2,999,507
Type: Replication Efficacy Award Number: R324X220101

Education Agency Partner: Hays Consolidated Independent School District

Co-Principal Investigators: Ciullo, Stephen; Harris, Karen; Graham, Steve

Purpose: The primary aim of this project is to rapidly accelerate the performance of students with and at risk for disabilities in text-based writing as a response to school challenges with COVID-19 by providing timely professional development (PD) and coaching to support general and special education teachers' implementation of an integrated writing and reading intervention. Prior to the pandemic, the National Assessment of Education Progress documented a gap between students with and at risk for disabilities and students without disabilities in writing. School closures and changes to service delivery models during the pandemic further exacerbated the need to provide intensive writing intervention to these students. This study addresses this need by implementing teacher PD and coaching in Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD), an evidence-based instructional practice for teaching students to write text-based informative essays following strategies used by skilled writers. Although SRSD has prior evidence of efficacy, this study will be the first one to test implementation with general and special education teachers collaborating. Researchers will examine both in-person and online delivery of PD, each with ongoing coaching, for preparing teachers to collaboratively implement SRSD for text-based writing. Determining student and teacher outcomes and the costs of in-person versus online PD will allow school partners to select a locally appropriate, evidence-based model for continued acceleration of literacy outcomes for students with writing disabilities.

Project Activities: The research team will conduct two cluster randomized controlled trials. Study 1 will compare students whose teachers participated in evidence-based PD and coaching in SRSD to a business-as-usual control group to determine whether there are effects on student writing during that year and at a 1-year follow up. Study 2 will compare the impact of SRSD PD and coaching online, SRSD PD and coaching in person, and business-as-usual practices on student and teacher outcomes.

Products: The products of this project will include evidence of the efficacy of SRSD PD and coaching in online and in-person formats for improving student writing outcomes. Products will include peer-reviewed research and practitioner publications on the intervention's impact, implementation, and cost analysis findings as well as additional products that reach stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in inclusive classrooms in elementary schools in suburban public school districts in Central Texas.

Sample: Study 1will include 20 dyads of special and general education teachers. After a screener for writing disability is administered to all students in participating classes, 100 students identified with or at risk for writing disability will participate in the study. Study 2will include two cohorts of teacher dyads and students with and at risk for disabilities in writing. Across both cohorts, 72 teachers and 180 students with and at risk for disabilities will participate.

Intervention: This project will evaluate two models of SRSD PD for text-based writing when implemented by collaborating general and special education teachers. SRSD is an established evidence-based intervention for helping students with and at risk for disabilities plan and compose informative essays after reading texts. Teachers will receive PD and ongoing coaching to deliver whole class SRSD and more intensive intervention to students with and at risk for disabilities. The studies investigate different PD models for SRSD–an in-person, practice-based PD and an online PD–each with instructional coaching using the same method of delivery. The SRSD intervention teaches students the following important elements of informative essays: (a) Topic, (b) Important Details, (c) Explain Details, and (d) Ending (TIDE). SRSD implementation in both studies will occur in 40–45 lessons over 15 weeks of instruction.

Research Design and Methods: The research design includes two cluster randomized controlled trials. In Study 1, the research team will randomly assign teacher dyads to either in-person PD and coaching for SRSD instruction or a business-as-usual control group. Teacher dyads will participate in 12 hours of PD, including opportunities to practice teaching all SRSD lessons and intensifying the intervention for students with and at risk for writing disabilities. After PD, teacher dyads will receive weekly instructional coaching as they collaboratively implement SRSD within inclusive classrooms. At the conclusion of Study 1, the first test of co-teaching SRSD among general and special education teachers, results will be used for possible PD refinements before beginning the next study. In Study 2, the team will randomly assign teacher dyads to three conditions: (1) online PD and coaching for SRSD instruction, (2) in-person PD and coaching for SRSD instruction, and (3) business-as-usual control group. Researchers will replicate all data collection procedures in Study 1 during implementation of Study 2. Online PD will consist of self-paced training and follow-up coaching sessions. In the two studies, researchers will collect student and teacher data at pretest, posttest, and 1-year follow up. Data analyses will examine proximal and long-term effects of the intervention and sustainability of teacher practices.

Control Condition: General and special education teacher dyads in the business-as-usual control condition will collaboratively provide their typical writing instruction.

Key Measures: The Woodcock Johnson Sentence Writing Fluency test will serve as a screener for writing disability risk. Student outcome measures administered at pretest, posttest, and follow up include: (a) Wechsler Individual Achievement Test: Essay Composition Subtest, (b) researcher-developed measure of text-based informative writing, (c) Self-Efficacy for Writing Scale, (d) Qualitative-Reading Inventory, and (e) State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test. Teacher measures include: (a) Knowledge of Quality Writing Instruction scale, and (b) Self-Efficacy for Teaching Writing scale. Data will also be collected from observations of intervention and control classrooms to assess SRSD implementation fidelity and use of effective writing practices for students with or at risk for writing disability (Writing Instruction Observation Protocol Revised). Teacher focus groups will offer additional descriptive data on feasibility and sustainability of intervention implementation.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use hierarchical linear multilevel models to estimate effects of each PD model for SRSD instruction compared to the control condition as well as to each other on writing outcomes for students with and at risk for writing disabilities. In addition, they will use linear regression to examine the effects of PD and coaching on teacher outcomes; mediation analyses using multilevel modeling to determine whether the PD impacts teacher efficacy, which then impacts student writing outcomes; and qualitative analyses to explore themes and summarize teacher feedback to understand the feasibility and sustainability of SRSD implementation.

Cost Analysis: To estimate overall costs, researchers will collaborate with education agency partners to gather data on quantity of ingredients and price per unit of key ingredients for in-person PD, online PD, instructional coaching, and SRSD instruction for students with and at risk for writing disabilities. Additionally, they will use cost and impact data to conduct cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses, aimed at informing how education agencies and other key stakeholders make decisions on future PD models and delivery of instruction for students with and at risk for writing disabilities.

Related Projects: Exploring Writing Instruction Delivered by Teachers Providing Services to Students with Disabilities (R324A180137); SRSD+: Development of a Powerful Writing Program for Children in Grades 1 and 2 (R305A170113); Efficacy of the We-Write Intervention with 4th- and 5th-Grade Students (R305A180212)