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Jackie E. Relyea

Jackie E. Relyea, Joshua B. Gilbert, Mary A. Burkhauser, Ethan Scherer, Douglas M. Mosher, Zhongyu Wei, Johanna N. Tvedt, James S. Kim.

Scaling up evidence-based educational interventions to improve student outcomes presents challenges, particularly in adapting to new contexts while maintaining fidelity. Structured teacher adaptations that integrate the strengths of experimental science (high fidelity) and improvement science (high adaptation) offer a viable solution to bridge the research-practice divide. This preregistered randomized controlled trial study examines the effectiveness of structured teacher adaptations in a Tier 1 content literacy intervention delivered through asynchronous and synchronous methods during COVID-19 on Grade 3 students’ (N = 1,914) engagement in digital app and print-based reading activities, student-teacher interactions, and learning outcomes. Our structured teacher adaptations achieved higher average outcomes and minimal treatment heterogeneity across schools, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the intervention rather than undermining it.

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James S. Kim, Joshua B. Gilbert, Jackie E. Relyea, Patrick Rich, Ethan Scherer, Mary A. Burkhauser, Johanna N. Tvedt.
We investigated the effectiveness of a sustained and spiraled content literacy intervention that emphasizes building domain and topic knowledge schemas and vocabulary for elementary-grade students. The Model of Reading Engagement (MORE) intervention underscores thematic lessons that provide an intellectual structure for helping students connect new learning to a general schema in Grade 1 (animal survival), Grade 2 (scientific investigation of past events like dinosaur mass extinctions), and Grade 3 (scientific investigation of living systems). A total of 30 elementary schools (N = 2,870 students) were randomized to a treatment or control condition. In the treatment condition (i.e., full spiral curriculum), students participated in content literacy lessons from Grades 1 to 3 during the school year and wide reading of thematically related informational texts in the summer following Grades 1 and 2. In the control condition (i.e., partial spiral curriculum), students participated in lessons in only Grade 3. The Grade 3 lessons for both conditions were implemented online during the COVID-19 pandemic school year. Results reveal that treatment students outperformed control students on science vocabulary knowledge across all three grades. Furthermore, intent-to-treat analyses revealed positive transfer effects on Grade 3 science reading (ES = .14), domain-general reading comprehension (ES = .11), and mathematics achievement (ES = .12). Treatment impacts were sustained at 14-month follow-up on Grade 4 reading comprehension (ES = .12) and mathematics achievement (ES = .16). Findings indicate that a content literacy intervention that spirals topics and vocabulary across grades can improve students’ long-term academic achievement outcomes.

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