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Research and Development of Spanish Individual Growth and Development Indicators (S-IGDIs): Early Literacy Identification Measures for Spanish-English Bilingual Children

Year: 2012
Name of Institution:
University of Minnesota
Goal: Measurement
Principal Investigator:
Wackerle-Hollman, Alisha
Award Amount: $1,599,980
Award Period: 4 Years (7/1/2012 – 6/30/2016)
Award Number: R305A120449


Co-Principal Investigator: McConnell, Scott

Purpose: The need to understand and prevent low academic achievement in the growing student population of English language learners is one the greatest challenges facing educators today. Existing research provides limited information regarding how trajectories of early literacy and language development in Spanish-English bilingual children predict later literacy achievement. In addition, early childhood programs that seek to promote children's later literacy performance have few tools available to help them identify and address the language and literacy skills of Spanish-English bilingual children. There is a critical need for the development of improved measures of the language and literacy development for use with this population of children that meet rigorous psychometric standards for scientific and clinical use. These measures are needed to guide instructional decisions, including determining candidacy for tiered early intervention. The purpose of this project is to develop and validate an early literacy assessment, Spanish Individual Growth and Development Indicators (S-IGDIs).

Project Activities: During the project period, the researchers will:

  • develop, evaluate, and prepare for dissemination measures that reflect contemporary criteria for assessment of Spanish language and early literacy to complement existing English language measures;
  • establish a set of items that can be used to accurately identify students who are appropriate candidates for tiered intervention; and
  • explore conceptual and psychometric qualities, comparative scoring and growth for the Spanish and English versions of these assessments.

The S-IGDIs measurement development work will be completed in six phases, over a 4-year period.

Products: The products will be a fully developed and validated assessment of the early literacy skills of Spanish-English bilingual children (S-IGDIs), and peer reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The initial measurement development work will take place in prekindergarten programs in Minnesota and Utah. The measurement validation work will take place in California, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Utah.

Sample: Study participants will include approximately 1,290 preschool-aged Spanish-English bilingual children, both typically developing and at-risk for or with disabilities. The children will be recruited from prekindergarten programs in geographic locations with large populations of dual language learners from a range of Spanish-speaking backgrounds (e.g., Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Central America). Over the duration of the study, approximately 100 bilingual teachers and 60 parents will participate in the five project phases.

Assessment: The fully developed version of the Spanish Individual Growth and Development Indicators (S-IGDIs) will include a suite of measures of oral language, phonological awareness, and alphabet knowledge for Spanish-English bilingual prekindergarten children. The measure of each domain will be linguistically, metrically, culturally and functionally equivalent and complementary to the existing Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs 2.0), an English-language measure of young children's early literacy skills. Like the existing IGDIs, the S-IGDIs measures will be designed to be brief, easy to use, repeatable, sensitive to changes due to intervention, and related to long-term outcomes. A set of measures and protocols will be developed to provide guidance to prekindergarten teachers to identify Spanish-English bilingual students who may need additional intervention or instruction. The S-IGDIs measurement tool will also include a growth scale to evaluate children's performance over time and a decision making framework and comparative score rubrics to identify the need for tier level intervention using both the S-IGDIs and the IGDIs measures. The decision-making framework and the score rubric will be used to identify tier level candidacy and provide guidance to inform the delivery of tiered intervention services within a Response to Intervention system.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will develop the S-IGDIs in six phases over a 4-year period. In Phase 1/Year 1, the team will specify and define the constructs for the Spanish alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and oral language domains. The researchers will create a construct map and use the map to create items for each domain-specific measure. A small number of test items will be field tested. In Phase 2/Year 1, the researchers will conduct a pilot test to establish initial criterion-related validity evidence, examine the administration protocols, examine descriptive statistical properties and examine the initial item level information for S-IGDI measures, including supporting evidence of construct validity. In Phase 3/Year 1, the research team will use data from the Phase 2 pilot test to inform revision of items for each domain and refine the procedures and supporting documents for each domain-specific measure. At the end of Phase 3, there will be a set of fully operational measures of alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and oral language developed and evaluated specifically for use with Spanish-English bilingual prekindergarten children.

In Phase 4/Year 2, the researchers will focus on validating S-IGDIs with larger, more representative samples of Spanish-English bilingual children to compute identification cut scores for Response to Intervention tier level intervention. Direct child assessments and teacher and parent judgments of children's performance will be collected at three time points across the academic year. In Phase 5/Year 3, the team will calibrate test items, evaluate the domain-specific measures, and compare the performance of children on the S-IGDIs and the IGDIs 2.0. The exploratory work will inform the development of a comparative score rubric, allowing practitioners to examine early literacy skills in both languages and determine the appropriate levels of intervention. Children will be assessed three times during the school year. Teachers will complete interviews and a feasibility and utility survey to evaluate the S-IGDIs. In Phase 6/Year 4, the children who participated in the Phase 5 study will be followed into kindergarten. During fall of kindergarten, the research team will assess children's early reading performance using standardized measures in English and Spanish. Analyses will be completed to examine the predictive validity of the S-IGDIs.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: A parent version of the performance level descriptor (PLD) survey, a researcher-developed measure, will be used for parents to report on their child's first language and child's Spanish early literacy skills. Parents will also complete a family demographic survey to provide information about native language use in the home, socioeconomic status and ethnicity. A teacher version of the PLD survey will be used to capture teacher descriptions of students' classroom performance. A demographic survey will be used to assess teaching experience and classroom demographic factors. Researcher-developed feasibility and utility surveys will be completed by a subset of participating teachers to evaluate use of the S-IGDIs. A battery of measures will be used to test and validate the S-IGDIs, including the Test of Early Reading Ability, Test of Phonological Awareness in Spanish, Aprenda-3 Total Lectura, Preschool Language Scales-5 (Spanish), Get Ready To Read- Spanish and the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (English version).

Data Analytic Strategy: This project will follow the established Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood (CRTIEC) model to develop a Spanish complement to the IGDIs 2.0. The S-IGDI development features seven tenets of appropriate Spanish-English parallel measure construction: (1) measures must contain General Outcome Measure characteristics such as relation to long-term and socially meaningful outcomes and use of a common metric scaled across time; (2) measures must be linguistically equivalent; (3) measures must be functionally equivalent; (4) measures must be culturally equivalent; (5) measures must provide metric equivalence; (6) assessments must provide component measures in both languages; and (7) measures must consider the acquisition of language skills (simultaneous or sequential) during development. During the initial measurement development phases of the study, research questions will be addressed qualitatively using the creation of a construct map. Additionally, quantitative descriptive and item level data will be used to examine initial versions of the domain-specific measures, followed by validation phase studies using contrasting groups design, multiple regression, ROC and Rasch analysis. Successful creation and implementation of the S-IGDI measures will be monitored using established measurement standards and criteria.