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IES Grant

Title: Project LIBERATE (Literacy Instruction Based on Evidence through Research for Adjudicated Teens to Excel)
Center: NCSER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Houchins, David Awardee: Georgia State University
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language Development      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/2008–6/30/2012 Award Amount: $2,951,349
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A080006
Description:

Purpose: A significant portion of incarcerated students has severe educational, psychological, physiological, and social problems. One common characteristic of adjudicated students is academic deficits in reading. Because many adjudicated teens never return to formal school settings, evidence-based instruction in reading and other literacy skills is essential within the juvenile justice system. To address the need for effective, evidence-based literacy instruction in the juvenile justice system, researchers propose to develop an intervention package that includes the Scholastic READ 180 program, other supplemental computer-based literacy programs, and teacher delivered lessons. The team will evaluate feasibility, usability, teachers' acceptance of the intervention package, and promise of the intervention package for improving reading outcomes.

Project Activities: Quasi-experimental and qualitative designs will be used to develop and refine the instructional materials and evaluate the promise of the intervention package. Evaluation of the feasibility, utility, and promise of the intervention will include multiple literacy outcome measures, as well as contextual data to assess the influence of mental health, school structure, and student behavior on the implementation of literacy instruction in a juvenile justice facility. Finally, researchers will utilize student and facility personnel focus groups and classroom observations to determine intervention implementation and intervention components that need to be refined.

Products: The products of this project include evidence regarding the feasibility, usability, teachers' acceptance of the intervention package, and promise of the intervention package in a juvenile justice facility. Published reports and presentations will be provided.

Setting: The intervention will be implemented within the juvenile justice system in Florida.

Population: Participants will be approximately 400 incarcerated male students over a 3-year period residing in a juvenile justice facility. The facility serves students who are mostly 12 to18 years old. The average stay in the facility is 10 months.

Intervention: The intervention package will include the READ 180 program, other supplemental computer -based literacy programs, and teacher delivered lessons. All students will receive the intervention during their set literacy block, which is 110 minutes of intervention daily, five days a week. READ 180 is the primary component of the intervention package. READ 180 provides instruction in reading, writing, and vocabulary. It includes software that adapts to each student's progress and workbooks, paperback books, and audiobooks that target comprehension and independent reading. Supplemental computer-programs commonly used with READ 180 will be used. In addition, the research team will develop or adapt instruction materials to be utilized class wide and to provide students with explicit literacy instruction based on a behavioral approach to learning.

Research Design and Methods: Quasi-experimental and qualitative research methods are proposed to develop and refine the intervention package to meet the unique needs of a juvenile justice setting. A quasi-experimental design will be used to evaluate its feasibility, utility, and promise compared to standard literacy instruction provided by the juvenile justice system. To determine intervention use and fidelity of implementation, focus groups will be conducted with student and personnel and the researcher team will conduct classroom observations.

Control Condition: Students in the comparison condition will receive standard literacy instruction from the juvenile justice system. The standard literacy instruction is provided during the set literacy block for 110 minutes daily, five days a week.

Key Measures: Standardized teacher and student measures will be used. Student cognitive ability will be measured using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence. Student achievement and progress measures include measures of letter-word identification, comprehension, decoding, sight word efficiency, fluency, spelling, writing, and vocabulary. Motivation, behavior, social skills, and mental health will also be assessed. The researchers will also use teacher focus groups and classroom observations focusing on teacher practices and fidelity and instructional quality to inform revisions to the intervention. Contextual data will be collected to assess the influence of mental health, school structure, and student behavior on the implementation of literacy instruction in a juvenile justice facility.

Data Analytic Strategy: Differences in growth rates between the treatment and control conditions will be compared for each outcome measure using hierarchical linear modeling. Constant comparative analyses with qualitative data from focus groups and classroom observations will be used to refine the intervention package.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Gagnon, J.C., Houchins, D.E., and Murphy, K.M. (2012). Current Juvenile Corrections Professional Development Practices and Future Directions. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 35(4): 333–344. doi:10.1177/0888406411434602

Houchins, D.E., Jolivette, K., Shippen, M.E., and Lambert, R. (2010). Advancing High-Quality Literacy Research in Juvenile Justice: Methodological and Practical Considerations. Behavioral Disorders, 36(1): 61–69.

Houchins, D.E., Shippen, M.E., and Murphy, K. (2012). Evidence-Based Professional Development Considerations Along the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 35(4): 271–283. doi:10.1177/0888406411412396

Houchins, D.E., Shippen, M.E., and Murphy, K. (in press). Professional Development Considerations Along the School to Prison Pipeline. Teacher Education and Special Education.


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