Contextualizing the science of reading II—Considering implementation to address reading in vulnerable student populations

Contextualizing the science of reading II—Considering implementation to address reading in vulnerable student populations

First Author: Tiffany Hogan -- MGH Institute of Health Professions
Keywords: At Risk Students, Assessment, Intervention studies, Academic success, Learning disability or difficulty
Abstract / Summary: 

The purpose of this two-part symposium is to contextualize the science of reading to better understand and address reading difficulty and disability among students who are vulnerable to experiencing difficulty in school.  Models regarding vulnerable populations have been applied in the social sciences and public health to understand disparities in various outcomes and to design interventions to improve those outcomes.  Importantly, vulnerability is governed by context; consequently, the causes of disparity are not always easily understood, in part because vulnerability is multifaceted. Applied to the field of reading, research suggests that both individual differences in learners and conditions within and outside of schools can increase vulnerability for reading difficulty.  Across two symposia, we will discuss findings from research teams that are considering multiple factors associated with the vulnerability of specific student populations to address reading assessment and development (symposium 1) and reading instruction and intervention (symposium 2) in school-based settings. 

Symposium Papers: 

Implementing research-based reading interventions in diverse community settings: Can quality implementation be sustained in outreach?

First Author/Chair:Maureen Lovett -- The Hospital For Sick Children & the University of Toronto
Additional authors/chairs: 
Karen A. Steinbach; Maria De Palma; Léa Lacerenza; Meredith Temple; Jan C. Frijters

Purpose: There exists ample evidence of how to help young struggling readers. Many remain without access to evidence-based programs, however, due to difficulties in translating research programs into school-based practices.  This paper summarizes results from a 13-year Canadian outreach initiative.

Method: We developed and evaluated reading interventions for children with severe reading disabilities, testing their efficacy through research in community schools, and finally scaling up to reach struggling readers and their teachers in Canada and in diverse high needs settings. Teachers participated in four days of training and ongoing mentoring over  >2 years.  Struggling readers received 110 hours of the Empower Reading intervention in small groups, and schools assessed progress using their own accountability measures (pretest, posttest, sometimes follow-up).

Results: In our lab classrooms, children who received the research-based interventions demonstrated superior outcomes to control participants, demonstrating gains on a range of outcomes from nonword decoding (Cohen’s d =  .78-1.08), to word identification (d =  .56-.59) and reading comprehension (d = .36-.63). Throughout, larger effect sizes were observed with younger samples.  We compared average gains using the precursor research programs and average gains obtained in diverse outreach implementations (Canadian and US schools, Indigenous schools, India outreach), and they were comparable.

Conclusions: Average intervention gains from different groups of struggling readers appear to be on par with and in some cases even exceeding those of children from the research classes.  These data indicate that quality implementation of research-based programs can be achieved with sufficient attention to teacher training and support infrastructure.

Examining high-risk children’s differential word reading growth in the HillRAP intervention program as a function of teacher training

First Author/Chair:Laura Steacy -- Florida State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Beth Anderson; Justin Carlson; Donald L. Compton; Ashley A. Edwards

Purpose: This study examined child and word predictors of the total number of words learned and the number of exposures required for mastery of words over the course of two years of intervention in three schools in the Durham, NC area that serve low income students and have high African American (42%-47%) and Hispanic (54%-48%) populations. We were specifically interested in potential barriers to intervention implementation.

Method: We examined the impact of HillRAP, a systematic reading intervention developed by Hill Learning Center. HillRAP is provided as a Tier 3 intervention and consists of small-group pull-out sessions as a supplement to regular reading instruction. The intervention is individualized to each child, enabling the benefits of 1:1 instruction in a 4:1 context. In this study, HillRAP was administered using a virtual platform that provides data tracking and reporting.

Results: Crossed-random effects (explanatory IRT) models were employed to examine total number of words read and the number of exposures required for mastery. Predictors included implementer (Hill teacher vs. classroom teacher), teacher demographics, initial child skill, and SES of the child. We also included interactions between implementer and initial child skill. Preliminary results indicate significant variance among implementer and children for both total number of words learned and efficiency of learning with no significant interaction.

Conclusions: This study highlights some important considerations for implementing interventions such as HillRAP. In particular, this study suggests that an intervention like HillRAP can be implemented by individuals in schools to a high degree of success.

The development of language-focused professional development for prekindergarten teachers

First Author/Chair:Mindy Bridges -- University of Kansas Medical Center
Additional authors/chairs: 
Mollee Pezold; Shayne Piasta

Purpose: Although early language development is crucial to children’s ability to learn school readiness skills, culminating evidence suggests that teachers are not providing quality language instruction in early childhood classrooms. This study is the first in a line of research to iteratively develop and ascertain the feasibility and efficacy of a professional development (PD) aimed at increasing prekindergarten teachers’ knowledge of supporting young children’s language skills.

Method: Our research team will develop two PD modules focusing on content and pedagogical knowledge of language constructs. The PD includes both online content, “assignments” to complete during their teaching, and examples and resources to extend what was learned. Twenty prekindergarten teachers will be recruited to participate in the study. Prior to PD, teachers will participate in a structured interview related to their knowledge and beliefs about language development and instruction in prekindergarten classrooms; they will also take a language knowledge survey. After PD completion, teachers will complete the knowledge survey and an exit structured interview.

Results: We will examine fidelity of implementation and pre-post change related to the language knowledge assessment. Additionally, structured interviews will be transcribed and coded to gain insight related to teacher perceptions of knowledge gained and feasibility of completion.

Conclusions: This study will provide preliminary evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of language-focused PD for prekindergarten teachers. Results of the study have implications for methods to increase the quality of language-focused instruction in early childhood classrooms. 

Developing a sustainable literacy tutoring program for children in foster care

First Author/Chair:Mark Lauterbach -- City University of New York
Additional authors/chairs: 
Ginny Dembek; Richard M. Kubina

Purpose: Youth in foster care face a multitude of barriers to academic success. On state exams in NYC, only 20% 3rd graders in care demonstrated proficiency compared to 42% in the typically developing population. Additionally, federal research protections for foster students make intervention development difficult. Our goal is to develop a sustainable, effective intervention that works within the capacity of the existing foster care system and can be scaled.

Methods: Staff were trained and administered standardized diagnostic assessment of basic literacy skills (Acadience Survey with letter sound and word reading fluency added). Decision tree models were then developed for targeting of specific skills based on initial assessments. Precision teaching tutoring packets were developed for individual students coupled with training for tutors in precision teaching. Ongoing feedback and teaching targets will be given to the tutors based on weekly data and transcripts of sessions.  Three ten-week sessions will be administered with evaluation of methods, fidelity, and implementation issues at the end of each session.

Results: The first phase involves 17 students between 2nd and 4th grade and 4 tutors. Results for student growth will analyzed by modeling growth in nonsense word fluency and oral reading fluency based on weekly scores as well as their progress towards their individual tutoring goals.

Conclusions: This research partnership will not only yield data on the effect of treatment but also the development of an infrastructure for sustained success and expansion of a program that serves a uniquely underserved and difficult to reach population.


First Author/Chair:DISCUSSANT Jessie Ricketts -- Royal Holloway, University of London