Academic and Behavior Combined Support (ABC Support) in Tier 2 Interventions
Co-Principal Investigator: Thomas Kratochwill
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and evaluate a Tier 2 intervention with a combined focus on behavior and academic skills, Academic and Behavior Combined Support (ABC Support). In current multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), students who are not successful with Tier 1 instruction receive supplementary support. Schools face critical choices when making decisions regarding the focus of Tier 2 interventions. Despite the frequent co-occurrence of academic and behavior challenges for students who are not responsive to Tier 1, their needs are typically addressed through separate academic or behavior Tier 2 interventions. Researchers will address this issue by developing and testing of a supplemental intervention with an integrated focus on academic and behavior deficits, thus enabling schools to maximize the efficiency of Tier 2 supports.
Project Activities: The research team will conduct a series of iterative research activities over a 3-year period to develop, assess implementation feasibility, and conduct a pilot test of the effectiveness of the ABC Support Tier 2 intervention. In Year 1, researchers will develop the first iteration of ABC Support (targeting both reading fluency and engagement and disruptiveness). In Year 2, the team will undertake a series of small-scale feasibility trials with Grade 1–2 teachers who "try out" ABC Support with students identified as being at risk for reading and behavior challenges. Based on feasibility trials and teacher feedback, the team will revise and finalize the ABC Support intervention. In Year 3, the team will conduct a pilot test of the final iteration of ABC Support.
Products: The products of this project will include a fully-developed ABC Support Tier 2 intervention for students in Grades 1–2, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations for school-based practitioners and researchers.
Setting: This study will take place in elementary schools in suburban and rural school districts in south central Wisconsin.
Sample: The sample will include teachers and students in Grades 1–2. Students will meet three inclusion criteria: (a) no identified disability; (b) at risk for reading and behavior problems based on universal screening; and (c) not currently receiving Tier 2 interventions. Over the full project period, approximately 24 teachers, and between 36–54 students, will participate across the different phases of the project.
Intervention: ABC Support will merge (a) common elements of Tier 2 interventions irrespective of their focus on reading or behavior (e.g., clear goals and expectations, structured prompts, opportunities to respond and practice) with (b) unique elements of Tier 2 interventions specifically for strengthening reading fluency (academic focus) and for increasing engagement and reducing disruptiveness (behavior focus). ABC Support will be developed around two current Tier 2 interventions, one targeting reading fluency (Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies [HELPS]) and the other targeting behavior (Check-In, Check-Out [CICO]). Within the integrated approach of ABC Support, the academic component (HELPS) will be adapted to provide a predictable, immediate, and authentic context for students to practice and receive feedback for meeting behavior expectations (e.g., "Raise hand to answer questions or to speak, without interrupting others."). In an analogous fashion, the behavior component (CICO) will be adapted to create a learning context that maximizes engagement and minimizes disruption to allow students to meet academic expectations (acquisition of grade-appropriate reading fluency skills).
Research Design and Methods: The project has three research phases. In Phase 1/Year 1, the team will use an iterative process (relying on interviews, collaborative meetings, and observations) to develop the ABC Support intervention. In Phase 2/Year 2, the team will undertake a series of feasibility trials using A–B designs, working with six teachers as they "try out" ABC Support with small groups of students. During this phase, the team will monitor students' progress and conduct implementation fidelity checks. Teachers will complete feasibility and acceptability ratings, as well as interviews to derive recommendations for the final iteration of ABC Support. In Phase 3/Year 3, the team will conduct a randomized multiple baseline design (MBD) study to conduct a pilot test of ABC Support. Specifically, teachers (n = 12) and students (n = 2–3 per classroom) will be assigned at random to one of three cohorts. Both case randomization (teachers/small groups randomly assigned to staggered replications) and intervention start-point randomization (intervention start point is randomly selected) will be used. In addition, randomized blocked assignment will be completed whereby teachers within grade-level blocks (Grades 1 and 2) are assigned randomly to a baseline condition. The pilot study will involve five sequential phases including: (a) universal screening to identify students (1 week); (b) follow-up progress-monitoring to verify identification based on screening (3 weeks); (c) baseline (1, 4, or 7 weeks, depending on cohort assignment); (d) intervention implementation with fidelity checks and ongoing progress-monitoring (10 weeks); and (c) end-of-year outcome assessment (1 week).
Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.
Key Measures: Student assessment procedures will include (a) universal screening and pre/post intervention measures in both reading (AIMSweb® Reading) and behavior (AIMSweb® Behavior) domains, as well as (b) progress-monitoring tools (administered repeatedly during intervention) to evaluate the effectiveness of ABC Support, again in both reading (CBM Oral Reading Fluency) and behavior (Direct Behavior Rating) domains. The team will also assess students' learning-related behaviors (e.g., following teacher directives) and cognitive attributes (e.g., paying attention) at pre- and post-intervention using the Social Skills Rating System. Teacher measurement will include assessment of fidelity of implementation of ABC Support (direct observations) and evaluation of feasibility of implementation (interviews, acceptability questionnaires).
Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use descriptive analysis techniques for data gathered during the development and feasibility study phases (Years 1 and 2). The research team will also analyze data from the Year 3 MBD study to compare behavior and academic outcomes across baseline conditions. Researchers will evaluate the data in three ways: (a) visual analysis using the evidence criteria of the What Works Clearinghouse Pilot Single-Case Research Design Standards; (b) statistical analysis using a single-case randomization test, based on dual levels of randomization, in the Excel Package of Randomization Tests (ExPRT); and (c) determination of effect size for level, slope, and variability using both ExPRT effect-size information as well as a non-overlap measure (i.e., non-overlap of all pairs).