The Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (TCLD) conducted research to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the following:
- Reliable and valid classifications of learning disabilities, with direct implications for the identification of students with significant reading disabilities, including models that incorporate response to intervention (Project 1)
- Role of executive functions and attention in reading comprehension and other academic skills (Project 2)
- Effective interventions for English language learners with intractable reading difficulties (Project 3)
- Neural correlates of reading disabilities in children (Project 4)
- Genetic factors related to inadequate instructional response (Project 5)
Our intention was to improve scientific knowledge and clinical practice regarding effective instruction for remediating reading comprehension difficulties for students in the middle grades (grades 4 and 5) and to link with previous studies that begin in grade 6. It is not clear why reading interventions are less efficacious in secondary environments, and the lack of attention to grades 4–5 is a major gap in knowledge and practice. Through clinical trials designed to scientifically determine the efficacy of conceptually designed treatments capitalizing on recent research on reading comprehension, language, and self-regulation, we hoped to increase the overall impact of intervention on reading comprehension outcomes for students.
- Determine the efficacy of reading comprehension interventions by comparing outcomes of fourth-graders with reading difficulties. We randomly assigned students to one of three conditions: (a) typical classroom reading instruction, (b) a yearlong replacement intervention, or (c) the same replacement intervention for 2 years. We will then followed and assessed students for 1 additional year (through sixth grade).
- Conduct a second randomized controlled trial with a nonoverlapping sample of fourth-graders with reading difficulties with the same design as Study 1, in which the intervention focuses on executive functions as well as reading comprehension. Like Study 1, we followed and assessed these students through grade 6.
- Determine student characteristics and contextual factors associated with response to intervention as a means of informing treatment decisions and to determine the extent to which student characteristics (e.g., memory, motivation) and contextual factors (e.g., teacher knowledge, school effectiveness ratings, neighborhood access to literacy) can predict response to intervention initially and longitudinally.
The following hypotheses relate to aims 1 and 2:
- Students who received 1 year of intervention will outperform those who received typical reading instruction across reading-related elements—including word reading, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, writing, comprehension, self-regulation, attribution, and motivation to read—at the end of year 1 (fourth grade).
- Students who received 2 years of intervention will outperform those who received 1 year of intervention and those who received typical reading instruction across reading-related elements—including word reading, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, writing, comprehension, self-regulation, attribution, and motivation to read—at the end of year 2 (fifth grade).
- Students who received 1 year of intervention will outperform comparison students (those who received typical instruction) through sixth grade.
- Students who received 2 years of intervention will outperform those who received 1 year of intervention and comparison students through sixth grade.
The following hypotheses relate to aim 3:
- Several student and setting characteristics will influence the effectiveness of the interventions.
- We will identify predictors of student response to intervention by using an array of school, teacher, and student characteristics assessed prior to intervention and investigated throughout the 2 years of treatment and 1 year of follow-up.
Children ages 8 to 12 who receive English-language instruction in public school.