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IES Grant

Title: Development of an Integrated Word-Reading and Spelling Intervention for Middle School Students With Word-Level Reading Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Williams, Kelly Awardee: University of Georgia
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (08/01/2023 – 07/31/2027) Award Amount: $697,178
Type: Training Award Number: R324B230029

Previous Award Number: R324B230026
Previous Awardee: Indiana University

Mentors: Ardoin, Scott; Barnes, Marcia; Reed, Deborah

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research for improving reading and spelling outcomes for adolescents with word-level reading difficulties or disabilities (WLRD) while participating in mentoring and training activities to develop expertise in iterative intervention development, models of word reading and spelling, and the development and dissemination of products with education stakeholders. Many adolescents, including those with learning disabilities, have significant difficulty comprehending grade-level text, in addition to co-occurring problems with foundational reading and spelling skills. Improving skills for adolescents with WLRD is critical due to the increased risk of negative education and career outcomes related to persistent reading difficulties. The goal of the current study is to develop and test an integrated word-reading and spelling intervention that leverages models of word reading and spelling to improve literacy outcomes for middle school students with WLRD.

Research Plan: The project will use a design-based research approach to develop, test, and revise the intervention across several successive iterations, with each iteration informing the next phase of the study. Year 1 will focus on developing the word-reading component and activities and year 2 will focus on developing and integrating the spelling activities. During each of these years, design trials will be used to test and revise the lesson activities and procedures. Teachers will deliver the lessons to small groups of students and both teachers and students will provide feedback about the activities after implementation. In year 3, the usability and feasibility of the complete set of lessons will be field tested using three pre-post studies, one in each grade level (6th, 7th, and 8th). Following each study, the intervention will be revised. In year 4, the PI will pilot test the intervention in a small randomized controlled trial. Students with WLRD in grades 6 through 8 will be randomly assigned to the intervention or a business-as-usual comparison condition. They will be assessed at pre- and post-intervention on measures of word reading, spelling, fluency, and sentence-level comprehension. Across all years, other data sources (e.g., interviews, surveys, audio recordings, observations) will be collected and analyzed to inform revisions to the intervention. Data from the pilot study will be analyzed to determine the effects of the intervention on reading and spelling outcomes for adolescents with WLRD as well as the extent to which the intervention is feasible, usable, and able to be implemented with fidelity by teachers. The PI will also conduct a cost analysis of the intervention using data collected during the pilot study.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI intends to (1) acquire knowledge and skills related to iterative intervention development, (2) advance understanding of models of word reading and spelling, and 3) build skills to develop and disseminate products to education stakeholders. This will be accomplished through mentoring and training activities that are linked to the research plan in both content and timing. Activities include regular structured meetings and directed readings with mentors, workshops on qualitative data collection and analysis, frequent consultations with methodological and statistical consultants, and support for product development and dissemination.