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).