Individual Growth and Development Indicators: Automated Applications for Performance Evaluation of Early Literacy (IGDI-APEL)

About the project

This project will design, test and evaluate the feasibility, usability and promise of IGDI-APEL, a tablet-device application that provides a comprehensive early literacy RTI experience for early childhood educators including assessment (Individual Growth and Development Indicators 2.0 (IGDIs 2.0) for screening/identification & progress monitoring), real-time interactions with student data, and a RTI data-based decision making framework. In this proposal we will specify and develop IGDI-APEL using a systematic plan to incorporate iterative development feedback through a series of field-testing and pilot studies, a description of supporting training and materials and an evaluation of teacher behaviors and student early literacy outcomes to examine the promise of IGDI-APEL as a robust tool for improving school readiness and early literacy educational decision making.

Study design

This project, conducted collaboratively by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Utah State University, will develop, evaluate, and test the implementation of a newly designed suite of Spanish Individual Growth and Development Indicators (S-IGDIs). S-IGDIs specifically target assessment of Spanish-speaking preschool children’s early literacy and language skills in Spanish.

Description of the research setting & sample

Three early childhood settings in urban and suburban districts will be included during this project. Sixty teachers and up to 460 4-year old English speaking children will be recruited from Minneapolis Public Schools School Readiness and High Fives, South Washington County School Readiness, and MoundsView Public School Early Childhood Family Education and Head Start. Students who are typically developing and at-risk will be recruited from these programs to supply a demographically diverse sample.

Description of the intervention

IGDI-APEL will be the first technology designed as a mobile, technology-based application to facilitate early childhood RTI by (a) employing psychometrically robust measures specifically designed to identify Tier level candidates for intervention during screening, and to progress monitor those students during intervention; (b) utilizing real-time data-based decision making through live interaction and alerts, individual, group, class and district reports, and Tier level recommendations for intervention and assessment; (c) using robust CAT student assessment interactions to reduce the testing burden required to produce reliable and valid data and (d) supporting data interpretation through intervention suggestion with Tier level candidates.

Description of the comparision condition

Two comparison conditions will occur within this project. During Phase 4, Pilot Study 1 will evaluate two presentation formats of IGDIs 2.0 within IGDI-APEL, treatment groups will include independent presentation, where the child interacts with an entirely automated assessment without teacher assistance, and dyad presentation, where the child interacts with IGDIs 2.0 on an iPad, and administration is controlled by a teacher and complementary iPad. During Phase 6, Pilot Study 2 will evaluate two data-based decision making paradigms to examine optimal circumstances for improving teacher and student outcomes. Treatment groups will include teachers who use the fully developed IGDI-APEL to make data-based decisions, and teachers who will use IGDIs 2.0 in card formats to make data-based decision making.

Primary research methods & analyses

We will employ multiple research methods during this project. Qualitative analysis of feasibility and usability will include transcriptions of think-aloud, focus groups and observations. Quantitative analysis will employ descriptive summary statistics of teacher and student performance on key measures when implementing IGDI-APEL using ANOVA and HLM, correlations between teacher behaviors and student outcomes on IGDIs 2.0, and Rasch modeling to (a)locate difficulty of IGDI 2.0 items during item testing and (b)compute student scores via CAT technology during IGDI 2.0 assessments within IGDI-APEL.

Key measures and outcomes

To develop and evaluate IGDI-APEL we will examine feasibility and usability through focus groups, think-alouds, observations and field notes. We will examine student early literacy performance via IGDIs 2.0, PELI and teacher self-efficacy through the Teacher’s Sense of Self-Efficacy Scale. Project developed measures will include a feasibility and usability survey for use with teachers during field-testing and piloting, fidelity of implementation for IGDI-APEL assessment and RTI components and demographic forms to capture teacher and student sample descriptions.

Theory of change

Ashton, P. T., Webb, R. B. (1986). Teacher Motivation and the Conditions of Teaching: A Call for Ecological Reform. 21(2), 43-60.

Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning.Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.

Nevin, J. A., & Grace, R. C. (2000). Behavioral momentum and the Law of Effect. Behavioral and Brain Sciences Behav. Brain Sci., 23(1), 73-130.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. From: Mind and Society (pp. 79-91). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

IIGDI-APEL Theory of Change


White Paper #1: Tablet Application Use in Early Literacy and Language Assessment


Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, principal investigator

Scott McConnell, co-principal investigator

Michael Rodriguez, investigator

Graduate students


Hannah Jacobs


Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Research (IES NCER)