“SERP field sites are structured as a set of three closely connected, and partially overlapping, groups: The Core Group, The Design Team, and the Research Team.”
Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate (CCDD)
As texts become more demanding, students need to be actively engaged in order to comprehend their meaning.
Five years into its literacy work in Boston, SERP received funding from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) for its proposal, “Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate.” The grant is one of five “Reading for Understanding” grants funded in a $100 mil. IES initiative that spans all grades from PK-12. The grant supports a significantly expanded Boston team to extend and deepen the ongoing work in several ways:
- An entirely new line of work has been launched to explore students’ developmental trajectories in the areas of perspective-taking, complex reasoning, and academic language, and determine: a) the extent to which these factors explain variation in reading comprehension outcomes, and b) the extent to which the project’s interventions affect those factors. Assessments will be developed by the Developmental Testing Service that will allow for measurement of student growth on these three dimensions over the course of the study with and without intervention.
- The Word Generation materials are being further developed to provide the option of a deeper exploration of academic language use in each of two subject areas: science and social studies.
- Word Generation materials are being developed for the first time for the 4th and 5th grades.
- The Strategic Adolescent Reading Initiative (STARI), a reading course designed to address the needs of struggling readers while meeting regular English Language Arts requirements, is being developed for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The course promotes classroom discussion of content that is grade appropriate, even while basic reading skills are being taught with carefully managed text difficulty.
- The project is conducting research and development on the professional training and supports teachers require in order to be prepared to employ classroom discussion to advance reading comprehension and academic language acquisition.
This project will generate an evidence base by conducting randomized trials (by school) of Word Generation, following two consecutive cohorts of 4th grade students for two years each, and two consecutive cohorts of 6th grade students for three and two years respectively. Researchers will conduct a student-level random assignment study for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade STARI courses for two consecutive years. Outcomes will be measured using state accountability tests, standardized reading and comprehension assessments, researcher-designed measures of perspective-taking, complex reasoning, and academic language, and other measures developed by the IES funded assessment team associated with its Reading for Understanding initiative.