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New grant targets preparation of doctoral scholars in learning disabilities, behavior disorders
May 28, 2015

MCPER has received a $1.2 million, 5-year federal grant to train doctoral students in the field of learning disabilities and behavior disorders.

The purpose of the project is to prepare five highly qualified doctoral graduates who can bridge the gap between research and practice by becoming leaders who are well trained in multitiered systems of support for students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders. The project will employ a research-to-practice leadership model that engages the collaborative efforts of the faculty in the UT Austin Department of Special Education, professional development and policy leaders at MCPER and the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts, and school district leaders. Mathematics Institute Director Diane Pedrotty Bryant will be the principal investigator of the project, and MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will be the co-principal investigator.

The funding is from the Office of Special Education Programs within the U.S. Department of Education.

Three school districts selected to receive expert assistance from Middle School Matters Institute
May 28, 2015

Three school districts in two states have been selected as the third cohort of sites to receive guidance from nationally recognized experts in research-based instructional strategies through the Middle School Matters Institute.

Etiwanda School District in Southern California and Pharr–San Juan–Alamo and San Angelo independent school districts in Texas were selected after a rigorous review process. District leadership teams and leaders from two schools in each district will attend the third annual Middle School Matters Institute Summer Conference in June in Austin, Texas. In the 2015–2016 school year, the districts will implement what they learned at the conference with support from a team of experts.

The Middle School Matters program is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. For more information, read the press release from the George W. Bush Institute.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

MCPER Math Institute Director delivers Distinguished Lecture, Research Talk at Purdue University
May 27, 2015

Diane Pedrotty Bryant, director of the MCPER Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties, recently delivered a Distinguished Lecture and Distinguished Research Talk on mathematics and students with mathematics difficulties and disabilities at Purdue University. The talks were supported by funding from that National Science Foundation and the Purdue University College of Education Office of Discovery and Faculty Development to Purdue's Dr. Yan Ping Xin.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

New $3 million grant targets word problem intervention for third-graders with math difficulties
May 22, 2015

MCPER has received a $3 million federal grant to test a word problem intervention for third-graders with or at risk for mathematics difficulties.

The new 3-year project—Developing Connections Between Word Problems and Mathematical Equations to Promote Word Problem Performance Among Students With Mathematics Difficulty—will assess whether equation-solving instruction conducted within the context of word problem intervention leads to improved word problem solving for this population of students. Each year, the project will recruit 150 third-grade students with or at risk for mathematics difficulties and provide individual intervention to 100 students. Sarah Powell with serve as principal investigator of the project, with Marcia Barnes as the co-principal investigator, MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts as the methodologist, and Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University and Jon Star of Harvard University as consultants.

The funding is from the National Center for Special Education Research within the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

New module explains how schools can use free app to monitor their response to intervention implementation
May 20, 2015

The Building Response to Intervention Capacity for Texas Schools project has released a new a "how-to" module for its Campus Response to Intervention Progress Monitoring Tool (RTI-PMT), a free app for electronic tablets and computers.

The RTI-PMT provides real-time data on how an elementary campus’ RTI model is working during an academic year. It promotes collaboration among grade-level teams in identifying entry and exit criteria for each intervention setting (or tier) and proactive decision-making related to resources and professional development support. The tool is simple to use: After each screening assessment, educators enter the names of their at-risk students and assign an intervention setting. The app organizes and displays data at the teacher, grade, and campus levels in pie charts or bar charts. When data are updated at the beginning, middle, and end of year, the displays show progress in meeting students’ needs, as students move to less intensive settings or exit intervention. The tool also can be used to share campus success with stakeholders.

For more information and to access both the module and the app, visit the Building RTI Capacity website.

Tags: Response to Intervention Institute  Building Capacity for Response to Intervention Implementation Project 

MCPER receives $3.5 million grant to improve literacy, prevent dropout with at-risk English learners
May 19, 2015

MCPER has been awarded a $3.5 million federal grant to launch a 4-year project to improve literacy, increase engagement, and prevent dropout with at-risk high school English learners.

The new project, Preventing Dropout Among At-Risk Youth: A Study of Project GOAL With English Learners, will provide small-group reading instruction and a dropout prevention program to high school English learners who are struggling readers and are at risk of dropping out of school. Researchers will evaluate the effects of an individualized reading intervention and a dropout intervention separately and in combination. The interventions will be provided to students in their 9th- and 10th-grade years, and follow-up measures of cognitive and behavioral outcomes will be collected during their 11th- and 12th-grade years. The project is expected to contribute to the knowledge base on effective literacy instruction, strategies that increase school engagement, and scalable policies and practices that reduce dropout among at-risk English learners in high school who struggle to read for understanding.

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education, the project will build on the work of the previous MCPER project Preventing School Dropout With Secondary Students: Project GOAL, which was found to increase at-risk high schoolers' engagement and reading comprehension. MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will be the principal investigator; MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts and Language for Learning Institute Director Letty Martinez will serve as co-principal investigators.

Paper by Autism Institute Director Mark O’Reilly, international colleagues wins journal’s 2014 Editors’ Award
May 8, 2015

A paper by Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute Director Mark O'Reilly and colleagues from four different countries has won the 2014 Editor's Award for the journal Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

"Tangible Symbols as an AAC Option for Individuals With Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies" earned the most votes from the journal's associate editors to win the annual award. O'Reilly co-authored the article with Laura Roche, Jeff Sigafoos, Vanessa Green, and Larah van der Meer of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand; Giulio E. Lancioni of the University of Bari in Italy; Dean Sutherland of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand; Ralf Schlosser of Northeastern University in Boston; Peter Marschik of the Medical University of Graz in Austria; and Chaturi Edrisinha of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. The authors reviewed nine studies that evaluated the use of tangible symbols in alternative and augmentative communication interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities, finding the technique promising but in need of further research.

Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute 

Six MCPER staff members to receive President’s Staff Awards
May 1, 2015

Six members of the MCPER team will be recognized at a ceremony for their years of service to the center and university.

Eric Bramblett, Anita Harbor, Mark Posey, Colleen Reutebuch, Matthew Slater, and Kathleen Walker will receive their President's Staff Awards at 10 a.m. on May 7 in the LBJ Auditorium. According to the President's Awards webpage, the honor "recognizes the importance of the contributions of loyal and committed staff to the continuing success of the university."

Bramblett will receive his 15-year pin, and the five other MCPER recipients will be recognized for 10 years of service.

Bramblett and Posey are integral members of the MCPER Administrative Team. Harbor is a research support person for the Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text project and an interventionist and lesson developer for the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities. Reutebuch is the director of the Reading Institute and a principal investigator in the Language for Learning Institute. Slater leads the Productions Services Team, which creates MCPER's print and online products. Walker is the project coordinator for the Building Capacity for Response to Intervention Implementation project.

Please join us in congratulating them for their years of outstanding work.

Article by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute staff among publisher’s five most-accessed for week
April 29, 2015

A recently published article by members of MCPER's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute was among the five most-accessed articles for the week on Taylor and Francis Online, which includes a portfolio of more than 1,600 journals. 

"Effect of Parent Involvement and Parent Expectations on Postsecondary Outcomes for Individuals Who Are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing" by Institute Director Stephanie Cawthon, and researchers Carrie Lou Garberoglio, Jacqueline M. Caemmerer, Mark Bond, and Erica Wendel appears in Volume 23, Issue 2, of Exceptionality: A Special Education Journal. For the week, the article had 119 abstract views and 105 full-text downloads. Taylor and Francis is offering the article for free for a 30-day period.

Tags: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute 

MCPER’s Sharon Vaughn among experts interviewed for new publication on learning science and literacy
April 8, 2015

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn was among a panel of researchers who lent their expertise to a new publication by Intentional Futures and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that explores learning science and its application to literacy education. Learning Science & Literacy: Useful Background for Learning Designers summarizes some core principles of learning science and serves as a precursor to a larger conversation on "improving student outcomes in literacy, particularly when it comes to older students who have already mastered the basics of phonics and decoding" set for a later date. For more information, download Learning Science & Literacy.