Developing Consultation and Collaboration Skills: ESL and Classroom Teachers Working Together with Students and Families
Co-Principal Investigators: Steven Knotek (University of North Carolina) and Steve Amendum (North Carolina State)
Purpose: This project will develop a new professional development program designed to improve English language learners (ELLs) language and literacy skills by building stronger home-school connections, leveraging the expertise of English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, and increasing elementary school teachers' skills in meeting the instructional needs of ELLs. The Developing Consultation and Collaboration Skills (DCCS) program will include training for ESL specialists in how to help teachers assess classroom strengths to inform plans to improve instruction; training for classroom teachers in how to collaborate with parents to take advantage of their families' cultural capital; and development of teachers' knowledge and skills in instructional approaches to increase ELLs acquisition of reading and language skills in English.
Project Activities: Researchers will use cyclical input from expert advisors and focus groups with teachers, administrators, and parents in the first two years of the grant to develop and revise the DCCS program. Professional development in the DCCS program will occur in a summer academy through consultation between the ESL teacher and K–2 teachers, and on-site coaching sessions between research and school staff. In the third year, the fully developed DCCS will be piloted using school-based random assignment with 40 classroom teachers and 10 ESL teachers to either receive DCCS or continue with usual practice. Researchers will examine the promise of the DCCS program in raising teacher efficacy, improving the quality of the classroom literacy environment, fostering teacher and school-home collaboration, and raising the literacy skills of ELLs.
Products: The products of this grant will be a fully developed professional development program designed to train classroom and ESL teachers in strategies to improve academic outcomes for ELLs; published reports describing the program; and digital content modules on key concepts of the program. Peer reviewed publications will also be produced.
Setting: Studies will take place in 14 elementary schools located in 3 school systems in central North Carolina. The percentage of Latino ELLs in the schools ranges from 30 percent to 60 percent.
Sample: Twenty K–2 teachers and 16 ESL teachers, principals and parents will participate in the development phase of the grant. The pilot study will include 20 teachers and 160 students from 10 schools different than those who participated in the development of the program.
Intervention: The DCCS intervention uses evidence-based professional development integrated into Guskey's model as a framework to: (1) further develop teachers' knowledge and skills critical to providing high-quality instruction to ELL students; (2) improve ELL students' learning; and (3) to increase teachers' self-efficacy to support ELL students and collaborate with their parents. The DCCS program will include three components. First, teachers and ESL teachers will attend a summer academy to learn effective strategies for working with the Latino ELL children in their classrooms. Second, ESL teachers will consult with classroom teachers and receive onsite coaching by the research team throughout the school year. Third, digital content modules will be produced to provide additional access to information from summer training for teachers throughout the year.
Research Design and Methods: In Year 1, an expert panel will provide several rounds of review of current versions of the DCCS curriculum materials, using a structured feedback form and participating in a two-hour video conference to discuss their feedback. Several rounds of focus groups will be held with classroom and ESL teachers, principals, and parents to provide feedback on the training materials and strategies. In Year 2, DCCS will be field tested in 4 schools with 8 classroom teachers and 4 ESL teachers and feedback will be collected via interviews and surveys of teachers, parents, and ESL specialists. Teachers will participate in structured interviews three times a year to elicit feedback on the program. ESL teachers will keep structured consultation logs to document their interactions with classroom teachers and participate in an online discussion forum to facilitate problem-solving. Interviews will also be conducted with the principals at participating schools and 12 parents of participating ELLs. Professionally developed DVDs will be created to provide examples of key concepts and demonstrate best practices. Feedback from all stakeholders will be analyzed to inform the final revisions of DCCS. The expert panel will review the final version of the program prior to pilot testing in Year 3. The DCCS program will be pilot tested by randomly assigning 5 schools to receive the intervention and 5 schools to continue with business as usual. The pilot test will include 40 classroom teachers, 10 ESL teachers, and approximately 160 ELLs. The promise of DCCS will be examined by comparing measures of teacher efficacy, quality of the classroom literacy environment, teacher collaboration, school-home collaboration, and student literacy skills between intervention and control schools.
Control Condition: In the pilot study, schools randomly assigned to the control condition will continue business as usual.
Key Measures: Four subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Diagnostic Reading Battery III will be used to assess students' skills in reading in English: Word Attack, Letter/Word Identification, Passage Comprehension; and Spelling of Sounds. Program implementation will be measured using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, and researcher-designed tools to assess consulting practices by ESL teachers, parent involvement and salient classroom practices.
Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data from focus groups, interviews, and online discussion boards will be coded and analyzed to identify themes and subthemes. Input from the expert advisory panel will be similarly analyzed for suggestions for improving content, improving process, identifying barriers to implementation, and identifying key factors for success. Analysis of variance will be used in the pilot study to examine the differences between intervention and control groups on each of the teacher outcome variables. An analysis of covariance of the students' scores on the Woodcock-Johnson Diagnostic Reading Battery III will be used to determine whether the intervention group improves at a faster rate than the control group.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Babinski, L.M., Amendum, S.J., Knotek, S.E., Sánchez, M., and Malone, P. (2017). Improving Young English Learners' Language and Literacy Skills Through Teacher Professional Development: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Educational Research Journal, 55(1): 117–143.