Supporting teachers' use of data-based instruction to improve students' early writing skills

Kristen L. McMaster, Erica S. Lembke, Jaehyun Shin, Apryl L. Poch, R. Alex Smith, Pyung Gang Jung, Abigail A. Allen, Kyle Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We examined the effects of a professional development (PD) system designed to support teachers' use of data-based instruction (DBI) to improve early writing outcomes for children with intensive needs. The PD system, called DBI-TLC, provided tools for early writing assessment and intervention, learning modules including face-to-face workshops followed by classroom application, and ongoing coaching to support DBI implementation. Special education teachers in 19 classrooms in 2 Midwestern districts were assigned randomly to receive DBI-TLC or to a business-as-usual control group. All teachers completed pre- and posttests of DBI knowledge and skills and self-efficacy, and DBI-TLC teachers' fidelity to DBI was assessed. Fifty-three students (2 to 3 from each classroom) completed pre- and posttests of early writing using curriculum-based measures (CBM) and the Test of Early Written Language-3 (TEWL-3). DBI-TLC teachers outperformed controls at posttest on DBI knowledge and skills (Hedge's g = 2.88) and reported a more explicit writing instruction orientation compared to controls (g = 1.63). DBI fidelity varied (on average, 84% for assessment, 79% for intervention, and 52% for decision-making). Students whose teachers implemented DBI showed a pattern of stronger early writing performance compared to control students on CBM, with effect sizes of 0.23 to 0.40, but not on the TEWL-3 (0.02 to 0.13). We discuss the promise of DBI-TLC to improve teacher practice and student outcomes, as well as the need to continue to explore ways to support teachers' implementation of DBI with fidelity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here was supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A130144 to the University of Minnesota. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Coaching
  • Data-based instruction
  • Early writing
  • Professional development


Dive into the research topics of 'Supporting teachers' use of data-based instruction to improve students' early writing skills'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this