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IES Grant

Title: Resources Aligned and Integrated for Student Equity (RAISE): Protocol for Grade-level Teams to Intensify Instruction for Students With or At-risk for Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Choi, Jeong Hoon Awardee: University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc.
Program: Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (09/06/2022 – 08/31/2026) Award Amount: $2,998,288
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R324X220051

Education Agency Partners: Bellevue School District, Washington

Co-Principal Investigators: McCart, Amy; Miller, Dawn; Ward, Caryn; Cusumano, Dale; Farmer, Sophia

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test whether Resources Aligned and Integrated for Student Equity (RAISE)—a systematic, data-informed decision-making process—improves the academic and behavioral outcomes of elementary school students with or at risk for disabilities. Emerging evidence shows that COVID-19 pandemic disruptions have exacerbated longstanding disability-based disparities in academic achievement and well-being. An intervention for intensifying instruction and support is necessary to meet the needs of students who are experiencing challenges due to the pandemic. RAISE is designed to empower K-5 grade-level educator teams to use data to align and integrate general and special education resources to better serve students whose academic, behavioral, social, and/or emotional needs are not met by universally provided instruction or additional recovery plan support.

Project Activities: To implement RAISE, the research team will build upon the existing school district post-pandemic recovery plan and multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) to systematize an approach to address complex student needs. The research team will then conduct a randomized control trial to examine whether RAISE results in more significant growth in academic achievement and positive well-being for elementary school students with or at risk for disabilities.

Products: The project will lead to an understanding of whether RAISE leads to improved academic, behavioral, social, and emotional outcomes in elementary school students with or at risk for disabilities. More specific products will include RAISE Guidelines for grade-level teams and RAISE Research to Practice briefs. Additional products will include various dissemination materials to researchers, practitioners, professional organizations, and the community through peer-reviewed publications, presentations at conferences, presentations to partners, blogs, e-newsletters, and social media posts.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in public elementary schools in Washington.

Sample: Approximately 580 school staff members (teachers, administrators, specialized educators) on K-5 grade-level teams and all K-5 students (approximately 900) from the school district's 18 elementary schools will participate in the study.

Intervention: RAISE is a five-step, data-informed decision-making process that empowers school grade-level teams to extend their MTSS to better serve students whose academic, behavioral, social, and/or emotional needs are not met by universal and additional instruction and support already provided by the school. RAISE includes tools to systematize (organize, document, and facilitate) team processes and decisions for students with the most complex needs, especially those needs caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. Grade-level teams will participate in training, facilitated practice, and job-embedded coaching as they begin to use this new practice. The school district will also receive capacity building technical assistance in preparation to sustain use of RAISE after the research is completed.

Research Design and Methods: To test the impact of RAISE, the research team will use a wait-list randomized controlled trial across two cohorts (Years 1 and 2). A matched pair randomization will be used to assign schools to treatment or wait-list control conditions. Schools will be matched on student demographics, percentage of students identified with disabilities, and whether the site offers specialized courses of study (such as a magnet school). Within each pair, one school will be randomly assigned in Year 1 to the treatment condition with the other school assigned to the wait-list control condition. The schools in the control condition will receive RAISE in Year 2 while data continue to be collected in both groups. During the first 2 years, data on fidelity, district capacity to support RAISE, and student outcomes will be collected at baseline and throughout the remainder of the school year for all schools. Data on the acceptability and reach (the extent to which RAISE is used) of the intervention will be collected following the delivery of RAISE training and coaching. In Years 3 and 4, data collection for all outcomes will continue at the same frequency to measure sustainability and monitor impact on ongoing use of RAISE. Cost data will also be collected to conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis.

Control Conditions: Schools in the wait-list control condition will have business-as-usual education in Year 1.

Key Measures: For proximal outcome measures, student academic benchmarks in reading and math will be measured by DIBELS and STAR Math, while student well-being (behavior and engagement) will be measured through office discipline referrals, out of school suspensions, and student attendance. Longer-term outcome measures include student performance on the state-mandated Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium summative assessments in English/language arts and mathematics and the percentage of goals that were met for students with RAISE plans. District capacity to support RAISE will be measured using the District Capacity Assessment. Data on fidelity will be collected using an observation tool and surveys, acceptability will be measured with surveys, and reach of RAISE will be determined based on the numbers of schools in which a random selection of teams were identified as using RAISE with fidelity.

Data Analytic Strategy: Student academic and behavior outcome analyses will include interrupted time-series analysis and multi-level modeling investigating accelerated effects, rapid effects, short-term effects, and differential target student growth. The progress of each school's fidelity will be analyzed to examine the robust improvement rate difference between baseline and implementation phase and for mean difference between groups. District capacity will be analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Cost Analysis: The CostOut tool will be employed to analyze cost-effectiveness. The analysis will include total costs, average cost per participant, average cost per hour of implementation provided to each target student, marginal costs, and direct costs to the school. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio will be calculated to determine cost-effectiveness.