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Two Teachers: A randomized controlled trial investigating complementarities between teacher student ratio and evidence-based practice
Last registered on June 05, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Two Teachers: A randomized controlled trial investigating complementarities between teacher student ratio and evidence-based practice
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002242
Initial registration date
June 05, 2017
Last updated
June 05, 2017 10:05 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2016-08-15
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Research Council Norway 256197
Abstract
We investigte complementarities between T-S ratio and evidence-based practice. 150 schools, with two classes at each school, participate in the trial. We vary treatment in two tiers: 1) increased T-S ratio, and 2) adaption of a program that provides training, tools and guidelines for evidence based teacher practice (Language Track). In the first tier we randomly choose one incoming class at each school as treated and one as control. The treated classes receive an additional teacher in literacy instruction 8 x 45 minutes a week from first through fourth grade. The control classes receive no additional resources, but we assess student achievements and motivation in the same way as in the treated classes. In the second tier, we randomly choose 50 schools to adapt Language Track, and 50 schools to adapt Language Track with additional instructions for how to use the extra teacher in the treated class. The remaining 50 schools are not asked to do anything to change their instructional approach.

The two-tiered design allows us to investigate effects of increased T-S ratio, effects of a more evidence-based practice, and complementary effects of a more evidence-based practice and increased T-S ratio. We do all effect analyses on the following domains of measures: : (i.) Students achievement in reading and spelling, (ii) Students literacy interest, reader self-concept and achievement strategies, (iii) Classroom climate and emotional support (iv) Teaching practices in literacy instruction. We will investigate differential intervention effects across parental education, income, immigrant background, gender and pre-intervention competencies.

External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
McTigue, Erin, Mari Rege and Oddny Judith Solheim. 2017. "Two Teachers: A randomized controlled trial investigating complementarities between teacher student ratio and evidence-based practice ." AEA RCT Registry. June 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2242-1.0.
Former Citation
McTigue, Erin et al. 2017. "Two Teachers: A randomized controlled trial investigating complementarities between teacher student ratio and evidence-based practice ." AEA RCT Registry. June 05. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2242/history/18267.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We have 150 schools, with two classes at each school, participating in the trial. We vary treatment in two tiers: In the first tier we randomly draw one incoming class as treated and one as control. The treated class receives an additional teacher in Norwegian lessons eight hours a week from grade 1 through 4. The control class receives no additional resources, but we assess student achievements and motivation in the same way as in the treated class. In the second tier, we randomly choose 50 schools to adapt the Language Track Program (Condition 1), and 50 schools to adapt the Language Track Program with additional instructions for how to use the extra teacher in the treated class (Condition 2). The remaining 50 schools are not asked to do anything to change their instructional approach.
The aim of the Language Track Program in Conditions 1 and 2 is to improve the language and literacy competency of Norwegian children and students, by increasing the skills and expertise of school and kindergarten teachers and staff in the areas of language development, reading and writing. By committing schools according to this strategy, we direct intervention towards the schools and the teachers. Language Track is an open educational resource for use in professional development at school level (språkløyper.uis.no). It is produced by the Norwegian Reading Centre at the University of Stavanger. The resource aims to contribute to the development of learning communities among teachers at school and kindergartens, by inspiring teachers to think and reflect upon their own work and to try out new, research-based methods that will promote children’s reading and writing skills. A typical session has a duration of one hour, which is considered well suited for school based PD sessions. It contains elements in the form of lectures, articles and films, plans to trial in the classroom, as well as questions for discussion and reflection. Discussion and reflection are key elements in the program design. While the resource is open, its design presupposes a fidelity in following the sessions and in using the resource as intended, to obtain full benefits. In line with this, the 100 schools that are randomized to conditions 1 and 2 have signed contracts where they commit to agree to ways of working for (on average) one hour a week during a four-year period. Also, each of the schools have established a team, including the school management, with a specific responsibility for planning and implementing Language Track. Twice during the project period (2016 and 2018) this implementation team will attend meetings with the Two Teachers project team. In these meetings, we will address the resources in Language Track, the school managements role in facilitating change, as well as what characterizes successful school-based development. The meeting in 2016 will focus on material for Early Literacy Instruction (i.e. letter instruction, early reading and writing as well as assessment of early literacy skills) whereas the meeting in 2018 will focus on materiel for students from grade 3 (i.e. vocabulary instruction, comprehension strategies, writing and assessment).
In both Condition 1 and 2 schools are committed to the Language Track Program. In Condition 2, we additionally provide specific guidelines for how the provided teaching resources should be used in the treated class. As such, we direct intervention towards the students by subscribing specific instructional approaches that exploit the opportunities offered by having an additional teacher in the literacy class. We combine informal assessment and specific instructional approaches with the aim of helping teachers tailor their instruction to the students’ individual needs. The subscribed instructional approaches will change as students develop their reading skills, and consequently teachers in Intervention 3 will receive annual one-day courses where they are introduced to instructional approaches and share experiences. We will collaborate closely with the participant schools, combining teachers experiences with research on best practice to ensure that the instructional approaches are feasible and carefully adjusted to early literacy instruction in Norwegian classrooms.
We measure treatment fidelity in both tiers. Teachers give weekly reports on whether the supplementary teacher was present in all the agreed classes, a total of 360 minutes (applies to all intervention classes), on the extent of school based competency development (applies to all classes in group 2 and 3), and whether teaching was in accordance with the provided guidelines (applies to all intervention classes in group 3). Twice yearly we will conduct random checks, where teachers in all classes report on the number of adults (teachers and teaching assistants) involved in instruction of the students during the most recent Norwegian class. School leaders will also provide annual reports on the use of resources (all schools) as well as their work with school based competency development (schools in condition 2 and 3).
Intervention Start Date
2016-08-15
Intervention End Date
2020-06-21
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary outcome measures: Student Achievement and Motivation
We will administer some identical measures at each data collection point. However, as children’s reading skills develop rapidly during the first few years of reading instruction, we will also develop new items for each subsequent data-collection point to avoid ceiling effects. Linking items will be used whenever appropriate and useful. At the end of grade 1 students will be assessed in letter knowledge, reading accuracy, sight word efficacy, phonetic decoding efficacy, vocabulary and spelling. Students will also answer a questionnaire about literacy interest and reader self-concept. Teachers will report on students’ achievement strategies. At the end of grade 2 and 3 outcome measures are reading accuracy, sight word efficacy, phonetic decoding efficacy, vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, literacy interest, reader self-concept and achievement strategies. At the beginning of grade 5 (T5) the outcome measures are word recognition, reading comprehension, literacy interest, reader self-concept and achievement strategies (see table x for more detailed information about the measures).


Secondary outcomes measures: Classroom Climate and Teaching Practices in Literacy Instruction
Both students and teachers will annually answer questionnaires on classroom climate. Students will in addition answer a short questionnaire on emotional support. Teaching practices will be measured by self-report, as the teachers annually will receive a questionnaire on methods, instructional approaches and organization of literacy instruction (see table x for more detailed information about the measures).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The Two Teachers design involve voluntary participation of 150 schools, with two classes at each school, participate in the trial. We vary treatment in two tiers: 1) increased T-S ratio, and 2) adaption of a program that provides training, tools and guidelines for evidence based teacher practice (Language Track). In the first tier we randomly choose one incoming class at each school as treated and one as control. The treated class receives an additional teacher in literacy instruction 8 x 45 minutes a week from first through fourth grade. In the second tier, we randomly choose 50 schools to adapt Language Track, and 50 schools to adapt Language Track with additional instructions for how to use the extra teacher in the treated class. This two-tiered design yields six different groups:
- at school with no literacy program and in class with no extra teacher (C0)
- at school with no literacy program and in class with extra teacher (T0)
- at school with literacy program and in class with no extra teacher (C1)
- at school with literacy program and in class with extra teacher (T1)
- at school with literacy program and in class with no extra teacher (C2)
- at school with literacy program and in class with extra teacher, in addition to instructions for how to use this teacher (T2)

To investigate effects of Language Track we compare across C0, C1 and C2, and across T0,T1 and T2 (holding T-S ration fixed). To investigate effects of increased T-S ratio, we compare C0 and T0, C1 and T2, and C2 and T2 (holding use/no use of program constant in all comparisons). To investigate complementary effects we investigate the differences between the differences in C0 and T0, C1 and T1, and C2 and T2.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer with witness.
At each school we randomly draw one incoming class as treated and one as control. Moreover, we randomize schools between the Control Condition, Condition 1 and Condition 2. We use a stratified randomization based on a battery of co-variates at school level, including mean score on National Reading Tests from 2014 and 2015; municipality/county; school size (measured as the number of students in grade 1 in 2015-2016); and whether the school had participated in introduction gatherings to Language Track prior to signing up to the Two Teachers project. A balance test of the randomization, based on mean score on National Reading Tests in 2013, confirmed that the randomization was successful.
In order to avoid selection bias, we collected (most) parent consents before schools were informed about the randomization. Also, schools had to supply the names of the students in each class, the name of the teachers in each class the name of the additional Two teachers-teacher.
Randomization Unit
We randomize on two tiers; first at the school level and then at the class level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
150 Schools.
Initially 152 schools participated, but two schools withdrew from the project after randomization (one from Control Condition and one from Condition 1)
Sample size: planned number of observations
5843 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
49 schools in Control Condition, 50 schools in Condition 1, and 51 Schools in Condition 2
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We will be as to detect effect sizes of 0.2 (p-value .05, two tailed) with a power of 80%
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
NSD Norwegian Center for Research Data
IRB Approval Date
2016-04-29
IRB Approval Number
47195