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Researchers Continue Intervention Work at Harvard-Kent School

December 14, 2020
Harvard-Kent students have had virtual assistance this fall from SAiL Lab researchers and speech-language pathology students.
Harvard-Kent students have had virtual assistance this fall from SAiL Lab researchers and speech-language pathology students.

The coronavirus pandemic has not prevented researchers from continuing their language and literacy intervention at the Harvard-Kent Elementary School in Charlestown. 

Raising Educational Achievement in Charlestown, or REACH, is a three-year grant funded by the local office of national accounting firm RSM. The funding allows researchers in the MGH Institute’s Speech & Language Literacy Lab, or SAiL, and four IHP speech-language pathology students to work with 30 pupils in grades 1-3, albeit by Zoom.  

“It’s a strong program that’s helping pupils despite the continuing uncertainty because of the coronavirus,” said Dr. Maura Curran, the initiative’s project manager, who said the intervention first went virtual last spring when the public school initially was shut down. The school selects children who would benefit from working on vocabulary, reading comprehension, and oral language skills, she said. 

Dr. Tiffany Hogan, director of the SAiL Lab, and post-doctoral fellow Dr. Rouzana Komesidou, are leading the three-year grant to implement a long-term initiative at the Charlestown public school that has one of the highest rates of economically disadvantaged students and one of the highest rates of English learners in Boston. They plan to submit an article for publication, led by Dr. Curran, on how they successfully adapted the program last spring to a Zoom-based platform. 

The initiative has continued this fall to add new elements, including adapting additional language intervention lessons to administer via Zoom and identifying, onboarding, and training new interventionists and volunteers. The language lessons continue to use the previously developed curriculum during the half-hour intervention sessions with one or a small group of pupils that have occurred two-to-three times a week this semester.