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IES Grant

Title: Modifying an Evidence-Based Peer-Mediated Reading Program to Differentiate Instruction and Accelerate Learning Among Underrepresented Groups: Implementing PALS in the Rio Grande Valley
Center: NCER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Artzi, Lauren Awardee: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Program: Leveraging Evidence to Accelerate Recovery Nationwide Network      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (09/01/2022 – 08/31/2024) Award Amount: $999,903
Type: Adaptation for Scaling Award Number: R305N220010

Co-Principal Investigators: Fuchs, Douglas; Chamberlain, Steven; Venegas, Elena

Related Network Teams: This project is part of the Leveraging Evidence to Accelerate Recovery Nationwide (LEARN) Network , which focuses on adapting and preparing to scale existing, evidence-based products that have the potential to accelerate students' learning relative to pre-pandemic rates of growth for the many learners enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12, postsecondary education, or adult education programs whose learning was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The LEARN Network includes the following other projects — Classwide Fraction Intervention with Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies to Support Learning Acceleration (R305N220008), LEARN Network Lead (R305N220012), Scaling Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI) to Serve Students Impacted by COVID-19: Digital Implementation of an Effective Intervention (R305N220013), and Adapting STARI to Accelerate Student Reading Achievement in Middle Grades (R305N220025).

A Research Network involves several teams of researchers who are working together to address a critical education problem or issue. The objective is to encourage information sharing, build new knowledge, and assist policymakers and practitioners to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes. The LEARN Network will focus on adapting and scaling up existing, evidence-based products that have the potential to accelerate students' learning for the many learners enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to modify Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) Reading, an existing evidence-based literacy program, to make it more responsive to the learning needs of a greater number of children. The adaptations proposed are intended to accelerate the learning of students from underrepresented groups who have been negatively affected—and differentiallynegatively affected—by the pandemic. PALS Reading is a supplemental program that has been repeatedly shown to improve the reading performance of elementary students, including many from underrepresented groups. The research team will develop, evaluate and prepare to scale PALS Reading with Differentiation (PALS-RD) for fourth grade students, which is PALS Reading plus new data-driven instructional differentiation capabilities to strengthen teachers' capacity to differentiate their instruction.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will develop a data-driven instructional differentiation component using curriculum-based measurement (CBM) Maze and a reading differentiation kit. The team will also explore the effects of this program modification on students' reading and will examine product-user fit. In Year 2, the research team will conduct a large-scale randomized-controlled trial (RCT) to determine whether PALS-RD accelerates reading improvement with respect to comparable controls and to comparable students' pre-pandemic performance. In Year 2, the research team will continue to explore the program's fit with classrooms and districts and will prepare for product scaling through data collection and analysis activities aimed at understanding market segmentation, differentiation, and size; stakeholder priorities; champions; and ecosystem shifts. Cost and cost-effectiveness data will also be collected and analyzed.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participants include teachers and students from public schools in suburban and rural districts in Texas.

Population/Sample: In Year 1, approximately 12 teachers and their 240 fourth-grade students will participate. In Year 2, approximately 80 teachers and their 1,600 fourth-grade students will participate. Students from 20 schools and 2 districts will participate. Participating schools serve primarily students of color, linguistically diverse students, and English Learners.

Products and Dissemination: Final products will include the PALS-RD program, an adapted version of PALS Reading specifically designed to support accelerated learning. All PALS-RD materials will be available in English and Spanish. Additionally, the research team will produce a PALS-RD program implementation manual, preparation for scaling plan, and a slideshow describing the program. The research team will disseminate project findings through a range of media such as journal articles, newspapers, podcasts, videos to a variety of education stakeholders.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the team will revise the existing PALS Reading program. Teachers and students will implement the existing PALS program. Every other week, teachers will assess students' reading progress with CBM Maze. Administrative data from the previous spring and spring of the study year will be compared to estimate reading gain. This gain will be compared to the gain of comparable fourth-grade students immediately prior to the pandemic. Finally, the research team will interview and survey teachers and students to gauge product fit. In Year 2, the research team will implement the modified PALS-RD program for 18 weeks in participating classrooms. The team will conduct an RCT, involving the randomized assignment of fourth-grade classrooms to PALS-RD and business-as-usual (BAU) conditions. Reading performance will be measured on CBM Maze and on administrative student learning measures. PALS-RD condition students' reading achievement on the administrative assessment will be compared to comparable fourth grade students' scores on the same assessments in the year immediately preceding the pandemic. Analyses will focus on two important contrasts: the first between PALS-RD condition and BAU condition students to determine the efficacy of the PALS-RD program; the second, to determine whether students in the PALS-RD group demonstrate progress equal to or better than comparable students in the year immediately preceding the pandemic. The research team will also conduct cost analyses and cost effectiveness analyses in Year 2. In Years 1 and 2, the research team will conduct prepare-to-scale activities.

Cost Analysis: The network team will collect and summarize cost-per-student and cost-effectiveness data annually for personnel, materials, and oversight based on data from monthly logs. The cost per student and cost-effectiveness are estimated for start-up versus maintenance and the cost per student and cost-effectiveness of PALS-RD versus controls.

Related IES Projects: Scaling Up Peer Assisted Learning Strategies to Strengthen Reading Achievement (R305G040104)