Teaching Together is an initiative that combines tiered school instruction with home curricular supplements to enhance language skills among pre-k children at risk for later reading difficulties.
Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center and Florida Center for Reading Research examined the effects of Teaching Together, in a study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly. This study included a sample of Head Start children demonstrating risk for later reading difficulties and eligible for Tier-2 services (targeted instruction for children with weak skills). By adopting an RCT-design, researchers randomized one control and three treatment groups:
- Control or business-as-usual (BAU) family engagement experiences (n=72),
- Tier 1 Family workshops and universal text messages (n=241),
- Tier 2 Basic Family, which added learning materials and targeted text messages to the workshops (n=29),
- Tier 2 Enhanced Family, which added parent coaching/individualized communication to the above supports (n=31).
Among all three treatments, findings were as follows:
- The Tier 2 Enhanced Family condition showed the most favorable impact on language outcomes (ES= +0.25 for Inferential Comprehension; +0.46 for Taught Vocabulary).
- There was somewhat promising evidence for the Tier 1 Only group, while no main effects were found for the Tier 2 Basic condition.
- There was also a pattern of larger vocabulary benefits primarily for children with stronger language skills.
Findings suggested that a blending approach to explaining sophisticated vocabulary and engaging in extended, inferential conversation across the classroom and home could help close the vocabulary gap for children from low-income backgrounds. It also indicated the necessity to examine for whom and under what conditions such academic language interventions are most beneficial.
Source: Zucker, T. A., Cabell, S. Q., Petscher, Y., Mui, H., Landry, S. H., & Tock, J. (2021). Teaching together: Pilot study of a tiered language and literacy intervention with head start teachers and linguistically diverse families. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 54, 136-152.