Faculty News

Lynne Vernon-Feagans intervention listed by ‘What Works Clearinghouse’

The Targeted Reading Intervention, an intervention led by faculty member Lynne Vernon-Feagans and designed to help teachers provide more effective help to struggling readers, has been listed by the What Works Clearinghouse.

The What Works Clearinghouse, an initiative of the Institute of Education Sciences, profiles educational research and lists interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective in helping educators.

The Clearinghouse reviewed a study led by Vernon-Feagans in which researchers found the Targeted Reading Intervention – or TRI – had positive and statistically significant impacts in helping struggling readers.

TRI is a research project based out of the School of Education and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute in which literacy coaches based at UNC use webcams to deliver real-time feedback and support to classroom teachers while they deliver 15-minute, one-on-one instructional sessions to struggling readers.

The study reviewed by the Clearinghouse – “Live Webcam Coaching to Help Early Elementary Classroom Teachers Provide Effective Literacy Instruction for Struggling Readers: The Targeted Reading Intervention” – was published by the Journal of Educational Psychology in 2013. The study was conducted in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms in 16 public schools in low-income rural counties in North Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas.

The randomized control trial study included 385 students, with 220 in the intervention group which was made up of struggling readers and 165 in the comparison group.

The Clearinghouse said it confirmed study authors’ findings that TRI had positive and statistically significant impacts on all three of the alphabetics measurements used to evaluate TRI’s effectiveness, and on one of the two comprehension outcomes included in the study. (The study did not find statistically significant impact on passage comprehension for the subgroup of first-grade struggling readers.)

Vernon-Feagans has led a 40-year career devoted to research and teaching aimed at improving educational opportunity for children. She has been the School’s William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy. She is retiring from that position in July, but will retain a research appointment with the School and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

Through a $430,000 grant from the UNC system’s NC Quest program, Bertie County Schools is participating in a project to conduct more TRI research with kindergarten, first and second grades. With the grant, Bertie County teachers will continue to receive training and materials, as well as yearlong literacy coaching and other training. Meanwhile, UNC researchers will further study the program’s effectiveness.

TRI has also received an Institute of Education Sciences grant of more than $3 million to evaluate its effectiveness with English learners. The project involved schools in Sampson County last year and will involve Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in the coming year.