Teaching Together-PreK: A Home-School Intervention for Young Children At-Risk for Academic Difficulties

Principal Investigator:

Tricia Zucker, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Co-Investigators:

Sonia Cabell, University of Virginia

Maria Carlo, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Jamie DeCoster, University of Virginia

Susan Landry, Ph. D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Funding Agency:

Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

Description of the Project:

The purpose of this project is to iteratively develop and pilot test Teaching Together-PreK, a multi-tiered pre-kindergarten curriculum that will provide whole-class shared book reading experiences (Tier 1) and targeted small-group language and literacy instruction (Tier 2). The classroom intervention builds on an existing, Tier 1 language and literacy supplementary curriculum, Read It Again-PreK!, which has been evaluated in IES funded studies. In addition, aligned home activities will be developed with a focus on parents whose children are not responding adequately with Tier 1 instruction alone.

Young children's language and literacy skills are related to later reading achievement and success in school. Existing intervention models have primarily focused on developing and implementing universal, core curricula to improve preschoolers' language and literacy skills, but some of these interventions are not effective for students who begin preschool with very low language and pre-literacy skills. Differentiated instruction that provides individualized levels of increasing support based on children's assessed needs is one way to address the needs of a subgroup of children with very weak language and literacy skills. The proposed project seeks to address these problems by applying principles of an evidence-based, Tier 1 curriculum and augmenting this with an aligned Tier 2 curriculum that includes school and home learning activities.  The research team will also develop tools to support adult learning including a remote coaching model as well as a mobile app that sends teachers and parents suggested activities and video examples. Researchers will conduct field tests to examine the usability and feasibility of the intervention in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.  In the 2017-18 school year, researchers will conduct a pilot study to evaluate the effects of the fully-developed intervention on teacher and parent practices and child outcomes.

Participants:

Initial development will occur with 10 teachers and 12 parents in years 1 and 2 of the project for iterative field testing and feedback during the development stages. In the third year of the study, 20 teachers will participate in a randomized control pilot study. Researchers will recruit a subsample of children (n=120) to participate in the study. Parents (n=60) of selected at-risk children will also participate in the pilot study.

Sites:

The study will take place in preschool classrooms in Texas and Virginia.

Timeline:

2015-2018