The long-term goal of this research is to translate years of federally-funded basic science on comprehension processes and interventions to provide elementary-age children with strong, school-based language stimulation to improve reading comprehension. The short-term goal of this proposal is to stimulate language and comprehension skills in Grade 1 children at risk for reading comprehension failure by testing the efficacy of a modified, small-group, version of the Let's Know! intervention, which has shown to be efficacious as a whole- class curriculum. Let's Know! systematically targets lower- and higher-level language skills to improve both language skills and listening comprehension. Delivering small-group instruction affords a targeted focus on those children with low language abilities who are most at risk for poor reading comprehension, many of whom have Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). To accomplish our goal, we have three specific aims: (a) determine the efficacy of Let's Know! as a school-based, small-group, language-focused comprehension intervention for promoting the lower-and higher-level language skills of Grade 1 children who are at risk for comprehension difficulties due to low language, (b) determine the efficacy of Let's Know! for promoting the comprehension skills of children who are at risk for comprehension difficulties due to low language, and (c) determine the extent to which intervention effects are moderated by dosage, initial language skill, DLD status, word reading skill, nonverbal IQ, and family socioeconomic status. The proposed project involves a collaborative and multi-disciplinary partnership among researchers who study basic developmental processes pertaining to language and reading acquisition as well as school-based prevention and intervention to support language and reading skills. We use a three-phase approach to accomplish this clinical trial. Phase 1 encompasses key research activities to ready the intervention for implementation in Phase 2's randomized controlled trial (RCT). Phase 2 comprises a multisite RCT to determine the efficacy of Let's Know! as a small- group, language-focused comprehension intervention when implemented at children's respective schools. The RCT will meet guidelines for high-quality efficacy trials in education and prevention science. Phase 3 will comprise analyses of impacts on children's language and comprehension skills, in both the short- and long- term, from Grade 1 through Grade 3 as well as moderation of effects. This proposal is innovative in three primary ways. First, the proposal focuses on prevention of reading comprehension failure, in children most vulnerable to failure, in a crucially important area of reading instruction that is weak or missing in most US schools ? explicit and systematic teaching of language and comprehension skills. Second, the study builds on decades of basic research on comprehension processes and evidence-based pedagogical practices to translate these into a practical intervention that fits squarely within the US educational system. Considering that evidence-based practices are rarely implemented due to research-to-practice gaps, building the intervention to fit in the current educational system increases its chance of implementation, if found to be efficacious. Third, the proposal considers longitudinal impacts of the intervention and moderators of the effect, which has both clinical and theoretical implications for comprehension processes and interventions.

Public Health Relevance

This Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) aims to translate years of basic research into clinical practice by providing early evidence-based language and comprehension intervention to those most vulnerable for reading comprehension failure. This project is relevant to the NIDCD's mission to improve the lives of individuals with communication disorders because findings from the proposed studies are expected to be informative for refinement of prognosis and treatment methods for this population, which includes children with low language comprehension, many of whom have Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). This project is also relevant to the broader field of public health because of the importance of language and literacy skills to quality of life outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDC1)
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Cooper, Judith
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Mgh Institute of Health Professions
United States
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