The research was conducted in two phases, the first phase was done in fall of 2009, and the second was done in the spring of 2010. During the fall period, the sample size of the control group was 33. The training group on the other hand, had a sample size of 168 students. In the springtime, the sample size of the control group was 42 students. The training group sample was however, 131 students.
The choice of methods used in analyzing or obtaining data in this research varied depending on the type of the information required. It also varied depending on the size of the samples being used. Statistical methods were used to analyze the data obtained after the research was conducted. This was done in order to give a simple way of comparing the results obtained (pre-test & post-test) (Spear-Sterling & Sternberg, 1996).
The methods used in this research included; pretest-posttest design, autoskill and academy of reading. The statistical methods consisted of ANOVA, correlation, questionnaires, and t-test. Questionnaires, and pretest-posttest, were used to collect information from the participants while the others were used for analyzing the data to determine whether there was a significant impact on the response to intervention on the reading skills of K-12 students under this study.
This study therefore, employed several methods in order to achieve it s objectives. The yearlong quasi-experimental single group Pretest-Posttest design was one of the methods that was used. This is a time series design with participants both pre- and post-tested twice during the year-long study. The pre-test scores is basically used to place the students into their respective training programs and the post test results is used to help the instructors to track the progress and the improvements in reading after the students have undergone the training (Skowron, 2001).
RtI is said to be most effective when it includes screening, which is school wide, decision making that is data-based, progress monitoring based on research, collaboration, and development of staff, and reliability of implementation. It is an approach, which involves multiple tiers for providing interventions and services to students. Currently, there is a powerful combination of autoskill and academy of reading where teachers use scientific interventions to provide services and support to students who are ‘at risk of reading failures’.
AutoSkill model used in this study was a dynamic software and it incorporated a balanced approach of theories. It created solutions, which wee award winning and helped to close the gap in achievement experienced in K-12 students. For the past couple of years, AutoSkill program has improved the fluency in reading and math of at-risk students. It acknowledges the success of a reader as a combination of receiving and comprehension use of instructions. Its contents include clear instructions in phonemic knowledge, development of structured symbol knowledge, development of fluent and accurate ability to decode text to automicity level, ability to apply strategies and skills, and fluency in reading. These elements combined in a single program are found to be highly efficient and effective in addressing the problems of the at-risk students.
Phonemic knowledge is the ability to separate sound pulse and bring it out as its components. It is actually the capacity to identify, manipulate, and focus on individual unit sounds like rhymes and syllables of verbal language (Renzulli & Reis, 1991).
The academy of reading test also utilized in this study used introductory activities, which were taken stepwise. Here the training on phonemic knowledge covered the important skills in a sequential manner. The students started by matching the rhyming words, then went on to those words, which started with similar sounds. When these skills had been achieved, the students progressed to another step where they matched words, which have the same sound at the end. The contents of the paragraphs for the academy of reading was basically designed such that it appealed to particular groups of participants. In this study, the K-12 students’ paragraph dealt with topics that were engaging and related to their common experiences in their childhood. The progress of each student was graphically represented and it helped the student to know the yields of their efforts.
The positive development shown by any student has a big impact in motivation and building self-esteem. The 16weeks training period taken by each student promoted focus with little or no burden on the attention span length. In a learning process, feedback helps a student to know whether the tasks they are undertaking are adequate or not. The academic reading test involved the use of feedback, which was corrective and positive. The computer program recorded student “on-task” time and errors in auditory visual, and visual match activities were corrected by a blue underline, and a check mark in green color appeared in case of a correct answer. This computer program tracked the time the students were using it together with on-task time, it did not include the time that the student was idle or downtime. Time on-task against time taken in the program was indicated for every student in each class. Although this may be affected by many other factors, it is a good indicator of implementation quality. A focused and well-monitored implementation was given by a big time-on-task, relative to the time taken in the program.
The tests were done before and after the students were introduced to the CAI training program for 16 weeks each. CAI has become an area of interest for many researchers because of its impacts on low performing students. It has been found to be effective because it is motivational, non-judgmental and gives frequent and immediate feedback. This study was meant to determine whether the participants were in a position to operate the machines (computers) with very little supervision. The responses were then measured by the computer and were analyzed at the end of each semester and gains/losses recorded in 36 distinct levels. This was mainly to provide a K-12 student’s profile on proficiency in comprehension reading before and after undergoing the CAI program.
The academy of reading test therefore gives an opportunity to build and reinforce the appreciation for principle of alphabets and phonics understanding. This was done by repeatedly exposing the students to words of high frequency and syllables in a development band. It also applied automicity theory beside task-analytic methodology. This theory is a unique procedure of training and includes both visual and auditory-visual matching to sample exercise. These are all meant to improve the automatic responding.
The assessment of this test was designed so that the results obtained were consistent with other scores in standardized tests. Results of the obtained tests were given in multiple formats, which enabled multiple perspective interpretation of the skills of the student. A correlation of “on-task” time to improvement was also analyzed as an insight to the connection of training to improvement. The Academy of Reading Assessment test that has been correlated to the TerraNova modular assessment series is employed in this case and has been validated to the TerraNova with a correlation of .69 to .80 across grade levels.
The participants in this research were k-12 students in Hanson School, which is located in Alexandria. They were chosen because they met these characteristics; these students went to an elementary school in a rural area. They also lived in a Midwestern rural district and came from households of low socioeconomic status.
The participants had an age of between 16-18 years and are in K12 grade. They are taken as a representative group as recommended by their teachers. These participants showed evidence of reading risk and were tested in the risk range in reading fluency.
The participants were exposed to various selection criteria. Experimental research was used to control and to test causal effects through the processes. It was applicable where the correlation magnitude was wider and where a cause would ensure the same effects were taught. The most important needs of experimental research designs was to eliminate the impact of the intervening, antecedent, and spurious variables. Variables must not be identified first because they are not required for manipulation.
However, quasi-experimental research design involved an experiment or the study in which a researcher has no control over the factors being studied. This is a key difference over the experimental research. In this case, there was no random assignment and allocation as in the case of experimental research.
In experimental research method, a time analysis was used for interruption and non-interruption purposes. In quasi method, variables were first identified because they are useful in manipulation for it to affect the dependent variable. The subjects were monitored for sometime so as to record the changes that took place; unlike the experimental where the time was set and was specific.
Generally, before undertaking any academic research, it is wise to know the ethics behind it. There are three major ethical considerations that should be taken into account. First, the researcher should respect the views of the participant and bare in mind that he/she has a choice to make any decision whether to be take part in the study or not. Therefore the researcher should disclose everything about the research being undertaken. Secondly, the researcher should maximize the benefits to the participants or the society and minimize risks involved.
In addition, justice should be administered. Participants should be selected equally so that the benefits accrued are equally distributed .Other groups of people e.g. the prisoners should not be neglected. Apart from these principles, one should ask for permission before carrying out a research in case of a research involving private participants. Advantage should not be taken on those groups that can be easily accessed like children. In this study, the study on the impact of response to intervention on reading instructions on K-12 students was done under the permission of the grade teachers. The selection of the participants was done after recommendation by their teachers.
A method, which would be transparent and mostly accepted in all research, is the quantitative method. Quantitative methods are tailor made to suit the approaches and methods used to define who should be recruited. Random selection is used so as to avoid biasness, for instance random dialing of numbers in the directory. Another useful quantitative method is known as ethnographic. This method studies the behavior of the people in a natural environment setting that seeks to understand the sequence of events.
Qualitative research reflects on the perceived nature of a person or item under study. This is to develop experiences, theories, and concepts so as to interpret and analyze the data and information, which have been collected. It uses the process of deduction as a study approach. This is to investigate the situation that allows precise measurement and quantification, which involves a controlled design.
The population of K-12 students has been significantly increasing ethically and racially since the 1970’s. 22% of enrollments in secondary and elementary public schools were students of color and has grown to over 40%. In the future, it is believed that schools will become more heterogeneous and by 2034, the majority of the students will be of color. These demographic varieties are seen to exert substantial pressure on teacher education programs in order to solve issues of ethnic, linguistic, and racial diversity.
Description of setting
The setting of this research is in Hanson school. Hanson school is a rural school in Alexandria. It is in this school that all the training and testing was done. The residents in this region are considered low-income earners. The training sessions were done in a computer room and sometimes, in other vacant rooms where distractions were minimal. Each student was given a computer and was expected to follow the program instructions provided and answered the questions.
Each student in the representative group was taken through the intervention. Before the intervention was implemented, a training sequence was introduced to the participants so that they could make themselves familiar to the program. The participants needed to understand how the software was used before the end of the training.
It was not however, easy to accomplish the research without a difficulty, there were several limitations that were experienced. The quasi-experimental design lacked a control group. This was a simple pre-test, post-test data collection relying upon the verity of the test for support of the hypothesis. The population of readers in this study had ample access to other reading practices and instructions outside the utilized program of instruction. It was therefore, not certain that the change in the reading skills was as a result of the introduction of computer software instructions. There were tremendous variety in the instructional reading treatment of every member of the population.
Each member in the group was given different instructions and therefore there was no equality on the extent of the instructions given. Consistency in application of the program also was variable in time and setting. Teachers had no access to several labs and because of time constraints; all teachers were not able to offer equal segments of instruction. Incentives for performance existed for all sample members, however, these incentives varied in consistent types and times offered. Other than this, the instruction program although efficient, was inaccessible in a broad scale. It was also not very accurate compared to human, in identifying and correcting all the errors that the struggling students might have made. This is however, likely to be the reason why this program was not been administered in a normal classroom situations.
The K-12 students in this study were trained in two tiers, tier 2, and tier 3. The two tires started with a baseline. A baseline was executed after the pre-test sessions. This baseline consisted a timed reading of a text passage, which was given as a word document, and every participant was expected to read any possible number of words in a specific timed period. The timer was set to start the moment the participant started reading. When this was perfectly done, the participants had to answer a series of comprehension questions as the experimenter writes down the answers. The number of correct answered was used to analyze the performance/improvement of the students and then compared to the initial (pre-test)scores (Rosenthal, 2001).
This is a method of obtaining data/ information whereby the person being interviewed is given a list of questions and can answer them in two ways. i.e. answering a postal questionnaire where he/she completes the questions given without the help of the researcher. The other way of answering a questionnaire is whereby the respondent completes the question in the presence of the researcher. Although the two ways always contain the same questions, the initial way is meant for a case when the anonymity of the respondent is to be protected.
Questionnaires should be either closed-ended, which provides only quantitative data, or open-ended whereby the respondent gives a qualitative response to the questions asked. The respondents are required to give their responds in their own words. The use of questionnaires enables a researcher to reach a large of people within a very short time especially when postal questionnaires are used. They are also relatively quick, easily created, code, and to interpret. Although they are recommendable, its design may make it hard for the researcher to analyze complex opinions or issues (Rosenthal, 2001).
In this research, two sets of questionnaires were administered. One was meant for the participants and another for the teachers. The questions majorly asked were those regarding the study period and the impacts on the reading skills of the participants. At some point, the respondents were expected to give answers in their own words. The feedback from the two groups was then analyzed and results tabulated as in the results section.
Statistical tests in this research are very crucial in order to quantify the impact on reading skills when the computer instructions were used to provide tutorials to the group of K-12 students under this study. Testing the ability of the students to use the computer instructions effectively was done by experimenters providing the basic instructions on the initial day of intervention. After this was done, the participants were then allowed to follow the software instructions. The observed results were promising; there was an indication that the students were gaining both knowledge and reading skills, this was done by comparing the pre-test and the post-test scores (Vaughn, et. al., 1993).
Analysis Of Variance is a technique, which is used to test the difference in any two given means of populations. It uses the hypothesis that two or more population means are equal. The pre-test and post-test means were calculated and compared. Using the hypothesis; i.e. the null and the alternative hypothesis, the differences in the means of the pre-test and the posttest scores showed that there was a significant increase in reading skills of the students who underwent the training.
The t-tests of the samples were also significant and this meant that there was an impact on the reading skills of the students. The most commonly used t-tests were the student’s t-test, which are used when the means of the two samples under consideration are equal, and location test, which is used to test whether a population’s mean of a normal distribution has a number indicated by the null hypothesis ( Sizer, 1997).
Correlation analysis is a technique that is used to determine the relationship between two or more attributes. Correlation coefficient of significant relationship of attributes ranges from -1 to 1. A positive correlation implies that when one attribute increases, the other automatically increases. On the other hand, a negative coefficient implies that an increase in one leads to a decrease in another attribute (Vaughn, et. al., 1993).
In this study, correlation of on-task time with improvement was done; this was done to test the impact of the training on the reading skills of the participants. The Academy of Reading Assessment test that has been correlated to the TerraNova modular assessment series is employed in this case and has been validated to the TerraNova with a correlation of .69 to .80 across grade levels.
Like every research, this one had some of limitations. One of these was the inability to effectively and efficiently communicate with both the respondents to the questionnaires and the supervisor. This problem was caused by a language barrier on the side of the respondent and the gap between the supervisor and us. This gap was created as a result of the long time taken in collection and sampling of data. Even though the time was not specified, the supervisor would regularly monitor the project. This expressed the need for us to have had timelines, which we did not have. We also faced a problem of the budget going beyond our expectations, forcing us to walk and extra mile and digging into our pockets in some given instances. The problem with the budget extension came as a result of underestimation, which had been done during the planning stage. Another problem that came up was the commitment and energy to undergo all the project tasks. One part, which was specifically very tiring, was the data collection part (Vaughn, et. al., 1993).
The methods described in this research reveal various concerns regarding the use of computers in improving reading skills of K-12 students. As stated earlier, there is need to increase reading instructions especially for those students who have difficulties in reading without adding any work load for the teachers. Student who should be targeted in order to benefit from this supplemental and effective reading instructions are those who attend schools that have a lot of students such that they are overcrowded or are underfunded.
Schools, which face financial problems and have large number of students get a severe stress on the few available resources. This is experienced especially when there is need to provide additional individual attention to those students who have reading difficulties. When this is the case, efficient and effective computer aided programs should be introduced, although it may be a bit complex (Reis, et. al. 1998).
In conclusion, it is realized that autoskill brings a significant intervention solutions especially for students of all abilities and ages who are considered as at-risk. Autoskill solutions are easily implemented, and flexible for helping a wide range of students. These students can be either enrolled in middle, elementary, and high school whose performance levels are both below basic and at basic levels on students taking special education, English, and standardized tests (Rosenthal, 2001).
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