I-Station Reading Intervention

Abstract: 

Imagination Station, or I-station, is an interactive computer software designed to help improve the basic reading skills of individuals in need of assistance (Bott, 2010; Ciampa, 2012). I-station claims to benefit at-risk students who are not on grade level using a tiered approach modeled after the same three-tiered approach of Response to Intervention (RTI). RTI provides students with increasing amounts of assistance, as needed, in specific academic subjects. Tiers are determined by a student’s performance based on his or her academic grade level. Minimal research has been done on the effects of I-Station on students in Special Education (Masters- Schimek, 2006). An action research study was conducted to determine if using I-station as a reading intervention, employed during direct instruction Special Education sessions, would improve the overall reading skills of these students. Data were collected across a seven-week period in nine different skill categories to determine the effectiveness of the I-station intervention on the reading skills of each targeted student.

Table of Contents: 

    Introduction

    Having computer technologies in schools and in the classroom has dramatically changed the way teachers teach and the way learners learn. Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) allows for more student engagement, individualized instruction, and materials that are presented in a more dynamic way, with ideas and approaches to learning that may not have otherwise occurred in the traditional classroom (Johnson, Perry, & Shamir, 2010).  Accompanying the use of CAI is the capability to monitor students’ progress regularly so that individualized instruction is ever-evolving. Mathes (2014) states that “teaching that includes frequent progress monitoring is shown to produce higher student outcomes in reading and mathematics than when progress monitoring is absent” (p. 9). It is important to understand how to choose a computer program that encompasses both effective instruction and constant data collection (Van Wyk & Louw, 2008). According to the National Reading Panel, using computer technology for reading instruction is promising (Masters- Schimek, 2006). According to the panel’s recommendations, the five key elements that must be included in the use of technology for reading are: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. All five elements are included in the I-station program, in addition to grapho-phonemic knowledge and the alphabetic principle.

    Little research has been done on how technology assists struggling readers. The challenge is to provide more focused instruction and time on reading tasks to students with reading learning disabilities (Masters- Schimek, 2006). It is important that both general and special educators work together to make successful interventions that impact students’ learning (Fugate, 2012).

    Problem

    Students receiving Special Education services in Language Arts are on multiple reading levels, and generally lag behind their grade level peers, as noted from I-station data collected.

    Purpose

    The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of using I-station as a reading intervention for children in special education classes.

    Research Question

    Does the use of I-Station as a daily reading intervention during Special Education time, when the students are pulled out of the regular classroom, improve overall reading skills?

    Background

    The I-station’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP) Early Reading Assessment is the basis of the I-station program. The results from assessments provide data to place students in tiers, according to current reading levels and abilities. The ISIP is based on the Computer Adapted Testing (CAT) model. This model adjusts to the individual abilities of each child. The ISIP provides teachers with comprehensive results and feedback that detail students’ strengths and weaknesses. The program then creates resources for teachers to use for one student or the entire class in that skill deficit area (Mathes, 2014). Teachers who use frequent progress monitoring and collect frequent data will have a more realistic understanding of the capabilities of their students and can then use these data to adjust instructional decisions.

    The teacher can arrange for the entire class to take an assessment at once or the assessment will be given monthly to each student using I-station (Mathes, 2014). The program is differentiated to individual students and adjusts to each student’s needs as he or she progresses through the program. If a particular reading skill has already been mastered, the program will not have the student review material on that topic. I-station only practices skills the student needs, and progresses students to new skills and reading texts as they show progress and mastery.

    Current research suggests that reading needs to be constructive and interactive, and struggling readers especially need to become constructively responsive readers (Ciampa, 2012). The interface of I-station allows for students to remain engaged, interactive, and responsive when working and reading in the program (Mathes, 2014).  Using computer-assisted instruction in the classroom is more dynamic, individualized, and engaging. This level of engagement may not be possible in the general classroom. Most literature that support this claim have been done with older students, however, perhaps due to higher computer proficiency skills (Johnson, Perry, & Shamir, 2010).

    Young children are being exposed to and are more interested in reading online. Reading online e-stories has been shown to promote phonological awareness, fluency, and word recognition (Van Wyk & Louw, 2008). The International Reading Association called for extensive research on literacy technology and how it affects literacy instruction. Research regarding I-station was done specifically on both upper elementary students, grades 4-8 (Mathes, 2014) and on kindergarten students in four Texas school districts (Larson, 2007). Both studies showed improvements in overall reading abilities from use of I-station as a supplemental intervention, but none were significant enough to be conclusive. Research needs to be done in the middle primary grades, second and third grade, to determine if I-station participation fosters improvements in reading with these grade levels when used as an intervention. This study was designed to examine the effect of I-station on middle grade special education students and therefore provides additional information to the gap in the literature.

    Method

    Participants and setting

    The participants were five students in a third grade general education classroom. All students had varying levels of education, but all received special education services that included direct, pull-out instruction and inclusion time for both math and reading to work on IEP goals and classroom assignments. The student demographic was composed of 3 males and 2 female students of varied ethnicities. Of the five students, one was African American, one was Hispanic, and the remaining three were Caucasian. Only one student is identified as an English-as-a-Second-Language learner as well as one student with a behavior modification plan implemented during the middle of the year. All student participants vary in socioeconomic status ranging from lower middle class to poverty levels.

    Prior to this study, all students had worked in the I-station program, but only once or twice weekly. I-station was used as a literacy station center in the general education Language Arts class. Students participated in each center and rotate through five centers. These include: work on writing wherein the students free write or write about a story they are working on in class, listen to a recorded CD version of a story previously read in class, read a theatre book to a student partner when put in pairs, read to oneself wherein student’s read an independent reading level book, and I-station. Students were asked to work independently on their own computer provided in the classroom. Working independently at the classroom computer, the students followed the directions in the I-station program for a twenty- to thirty-minute time period. Students receiving Special Education services were paired with other special education students during these literacy stations twice a week.

    The intervention for the research occurred daily during special education pull-out time. The pull-out time was conducted in the school computer lab. This time is direct, one-on-one instruction time, given by one inclusion teacher and one student teacher, providing services only to students who have pull out time according to their Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Each student spent twenty minutes working on I-station programs daily. I-station served as supplemental practice on reading skills that all students had as a part of their IEP goals.

    Instrumentation

    I-Station measures progress by using the ISIP Early Reading Assessment for students in Kindergarten through the third grade. The ISIP breaks down scores differently for each reading skill category and sorts these scores into three tiers. Tier 1 is considered on grade level or the equivalent of an average middle-of-the-year third grade student. Tier 2 is considered just below grade level or the equivalent of the middle-of-the-year second grade student, to a beginning-of-the-year third grade student. Lastly, Tier 3 is considered significantly below grade level or the equivalent of a middle-of-the-year kindergarten student to an end-of-the-year first grade student. For overall reading, letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, alphabetic decoding, comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling, scores ranging from 138-237 are considered Tier 3. Scores that range from 238-242 are considered Tier 2, and scores ranging from 243-260 are considered Tier 1. Text fluency is measured on a scale ranging from 0-100. Scores from 0-44 are considered Tier 3. Scores from 45-70 are considered Tier 2, and scores from 71-100 are Tier 3.

    The ISIP Early Reading Assessment consisted of reading stories, phonics, and word games to determine students’ reading competencies. The assessment length varied depending on what areas students had already mastered. Once the assessment is complete for the individual student, the program immediately starts lessons in areas that target individual student’s assessed reading needs.

    Reliability and Validity

    In order to test the validity and reliability of the ISIP Early Reading Assessment in the program, research was conducted under four reading domains: word analysis, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. Reliability testing began with seven thirty-minute ISIP Early Reading assessments given to students in kindergarten through the third grade. In addition to the I-station’s ISIP Early Reading Assessment, the data collectors tested students using Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy, Nonsense Word Fluency, Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, and Oral Reading Fluency assessments. One or more additional tests were administered during each session in specific reading areas, such as phonemic awareness. Patricia Mathes created the ISIP Early Reading Assessment based on standards taken from the National Reading Panel (2014). Test items were then reviewed by Reading Specialists. Further Validity measures were taken by testing the correlations between the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy (DIBELS), and the ISIP Early Reading Assessment. Correlation scores were taken from October 2008 to February 2009. The correlation scores are as follows: October .826, November .794, Late November .827, December .752, January .748, Late January .777, and February .766. Final validity measures were taken by comparing the reading scores of the ISIP Early Reading Assessment and the Reading Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. Correlation scores were taken from October 2008 to February 2009. The correlation scores are as follows: October .630, November .551, Late November .598, December .450, January .582, Late January .555, and February .533. Correlation scores for the comparisons of both the DIBELS and the Reading TAKS test are in the moderate to very large correlations score range. Correlation scores of .3 are considered moderate, scores of .5 are considered large, and scores of .7 are considered very large. The reliability and validity evidence indicates that the ISIP Reading Assessment is a reliable and valid reading test to be used in the I-station program (Mathes, 2014).

    Data Collection

    This Action Research took place over a seven-week period. The first week was used to collect baseline data, followed by six weeks of intervention. The baseline data consisted of testing reading skills: overall reading, letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, alphabetic decoding, comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and text fluency. To collect baseline data, each student completed an ISIP assessment on the I-station program. The initial results were recorded and intervention began the second week. Intervention delivery was based on the CAI reports generated by I-station. Students proceeded to interact with the I-station program daily for 20 minutes each day across a six-week period. I-station data were collected three times during the study – weeks one, four, and seven. Data collected included overall reading, letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, alphabetic decoding, comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and text fluency. The data were reported in individual student summary reports.

    Results

    The data are presented in tables and figures. Table 1 describes the initial results from the baseline ISIP assessment. Table 2 and Table 3 show the data across the fourth and seventh weeks of intervention. Finally, Table 4 shows the comparison of the data from the initial to the final ISIP using a t-test to look for significant changes. Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, Figure 4, and Figure 5 show a graphical representation of the changes in scores from the first week to the seventh week in each individual student.

    Discussion

    Following seven weeks of I-station intervention, students showed improvement in overall reading skills. The most important finding from this study was how online reading interventions affect students receiving Special Education services in reading. The key difference between I-station and inclusion classroom experiences – which were somewhat sporadic – was the use of I-station during Special Education pull-out time, wherein the students used I-station on a daily basis for no less than 20 minutes. This consistent, constant use of the intervention fostered measureable change in overall reading skills in all four students, with varying differences in other areas of reading development for each student. Figure 1 shows a graphic representation of the students for each area tested.

    The focus of this study was to determine if regular, daily intervention with I-station in a special education setting would result in significant changes in overall reading skills at the p < .05 level. To determine differences, a t-test was conducted on data collected in weeks one and seven. P-values between .01 and .05 are a strong indication of a significant change in scores. P-values between .05 and .1 show a less significant change in scores. Finally, P-values above .1 do not show any significant change in scores.

    T-test calculations revealed a mix of changes in students’ performances on varied aspects of the tests administered.  Findings in Table 1 show that overall reading resulted in a p-value of .0493, showing a significant change in scores. Letter knowledge resulted in a p-value of .42, showing no significant change in scores. Phonemic awareness resulted in a p-value of .03, showing a significant change in scores. Alphabetic decoding resulted in a p-value of .069, showing a weak indication of change in scores. Comprehension resulted in a p-value of .31, showing no significant change in scores. Vocabulary resulted in a p-value of .026, showing a significant change in scores. Spelling resulted in a p-value of .22, showing no significant change in scores. Text Fluency resulted in a p-value of .31, showing no significant change in scores.

    Significant changes were found in overall reading scores, phonemic awareness, and vocabulary. The results of the t-tests show that providing consistent, constant experiences with I-station intervention can lead to higher levels of reading across even as short a period of time as six weeks. This is important because it signals to teachers, not only special education teachers, that consistent, continuous intervention significantly increases students’ overall reading performance.  This is potentially applicable in regular classroom settings wherein other students in various levels of RTI could benefit from consistent, constant I-station interventions.

    The findings from the study are supported by other I-station research (Mathes, 2014). However, the difference in this study is the level of reading and the classification of the learners as special education. This difference is important because students receiving Special Education services often require more work on basic reading skills as a part of their Individual Education Plans. This time is often limited in only inclusion, or in-class support, time and direct instruction time, wherein students are pulled out of the classroom to work on skill mastery. I-station can be used in both Special Education minutes and the general education classroom to allow students more mastery time in specific reading skills.

    Recommendations

    Potentially, these results could be duplicated in a similar setting, possibly with special education or non-special education students who are reading far below grade level. The fact that the I-station program takes into account lessons in areas where students have the greatest need, sets up specified lessons, and continues until the student has made improvements indicates that the program is valuable to teachers who are seeking new ways to reach learners on various levels of reading skills. Future research in the use of I-station could lead to the study of the relationship between I-station experiences and reading within specific content areas such as science, social studies, and mathematics. In this study, albeit with only four special education students, improvements were observed from the first week to the fourth week and after seven weeks. It would be valuable to determine if these results could follow the same pattern if other students were working on I-station for several consecutive weeks, spending a consistent amount of time across the weeks. Further research needs to be done on the effectiveness over an extended amount of time.

    References

    • Bott, K. M. (2010). Effects of the implementation of the "Rally to Read" program: A tier 3 approach within the response to intervention process. (Doctoral dissertation, Baylor University). Retrieved from https://beardocs.baylor.edu/xmlui/handle/2104/7927
    • Ciampa, K. (2012). ICANREAD: The effects of an online reading program on grade 1 students’ engagement and comprehension strategy use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 45(1), 27–59. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ991838.pdf
    • Fugate, M. K. (2012). Response to intervention viewed through the lens of adoption of innovation. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas). Retrieved from http://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/19570
    • Johnson, E. P., Perry, J., & Shamir, H. (2010). Variability in reading ability gains as a function of computer-assisted instruction method of presentation. Computers & Education, 55(1), 209-217. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.01.006
    • Larson, S. H. (2007). Computer-assisted instruction in literacy skills for kindergarten students and perceptions of administrators and teachers. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (ID No. 304834320).
    • Masters- Schimek, J. A. (2006). A grant proposal to study the benefits of reading software for students with reading learning disabilities. (Master’s Thesis). Available from ResearchGate database.
    • Mathes, P. (2014). Istation’s indicators of progress (ISIP) advanced reading. Dallas, TX: Istation. Retrieved from http://www3.istation.com/Content/downloads/studies/ar_technical_report.pdf
    • Van Wyk, G., & Louw, A. (2008). Technology-assisted reading for improving reading skills for young South African learners. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 6(3), 245-254. Retrieved from www.ejel.org

    Table 1: Initial Results from the Baseline ISIP Assessment    

    Student: O.R. L.K. P.A. A.D. Comp. Vocab. Spelling T.F. L.C.
    1 204 208 198 210 190 224 201 0 N/A
    2 202 206 189 193 219 224 196 0 N/A
    3 203 197 194 188 230 205 240 32 N/A
    4 229 N/A N/A N/A 220 255 229 0 N/A
    5 208 208 192 209 233 210 213 12 N/A

    Week 1 Initial Data
    Note:
    *O.R. = overall reading, L.K. = letter knowledge, P.A. phonemic awareness, A.D. = alphabetic decoding, Comp. = comprehension, T.F. = text fluency, L.C. = listening comprehension.
    * All score ranges in tier 3, kindergarten and first grade levels

    Table 2:  Results on ISIP Assessment from Week 4 of Intervention

    Student: O.R. L.K. P.A. A.D. Comp. Vocab. Spelling T.F. L.C.
    1 192 192 205 210 190 179 201 -1 N/A
    2 209 190 196 206 216 233 220 -1 N/A
    3 222 211 204 218 223 222 240 28 N/A
    4 250 N/A N/A N/A 226 277 233 6 N/A
    5 216 218 192 209 233 215 213 12 N/A

    Week 4 Data
    Note:
    *O.R. = overall reading, L.K. = letter knowledge, P.A. phonemic awareness, A.D. = alphabetic decoding, Comp. = comprehension, T.F. = text fluency, L.C. = listening comprehension.
    * All scores range from tier 1 to tier 3, kindergarten-3rd grade levels

    Table 3: Results on ISIP Assessment from Week 7 of Intervention

    Student: O.R. L.K. P.A. A.D. Comp. Vocab. Spelling T.F. L.C.
    1 207 192 205 227 190 222 201 -1 N/A
    2 203 190 196 206 211 233 220 -1 N/A
    3 224 211 204 218 228 233 237 8 N/A
    4 234 N/A N/A N/A 226 273 223 6 N/A
    5 216 219 192 205 231 225 221 18 N/A

    Week 7 Final Data
    Note:
    *O.R. = overall reading, L.K. = letter knowledge, P.A. phonemic awareness, A.D. = alphabetic decoding, Comp. = comprehension, T.F. = text fluency, L.C. = listening comprehension.
    * All scores range from tier 1 to tier 3, kindergarten-3rd grade levels

    Table 4: Comparison of Results from the Initial to the Final ISIP Assessment

    Group: O.R. L.K. P.A. A.D. Comp. Vocab. Spelling T.F. L.C.
    All Students 0.0493* 0.4228 0.0331* 0.0699 0.3107 0.0260* 0.2204 0.3195 N/A

    T-Test Results Comparing Week 1 to Week 7
    Note:
    *O.R. = overall reading, L.K. = letter knowledge, P.A. phonemic awareness, A.D. = alphabetic decoding, Comp. = comprehension, T.F. = text fluency, L.C. = listening comprehension.
    *p<.05, **.05<p<.1, †p>.1

    Figure 1: Comparison of ISP Assessment at Baseline and at Week 7 for Student 1

    Figure 2: Comparison of ISP Assessment at Baseline and at Week 7 for Student 2

    Figure 3: Comparison of ISP Assessment at Baseline and at Week 7 for Student 3

    Figure 4: Comparison of ISP Assessment at Baseline and at Week 7 for Student 4

    Figure 5: Comparison of ISP Assessment at Baseline and at Week 7 for Student 5