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TLI partnership with Nixon-Smiley yields tremendous growth in prekindergarten
February 1, 2016

Through hard work and an ongoing partnership with the Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI), the prekindergarten program at Nixon-Smiley Elementary School has posted dramatic gains in literacy.

A comparison of the numbers from the beginning of the 2014–2015 school year to the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year speaks for itself—on the CLI Engage assessment, the percentage of prekindergarten students deemed as making “acceptable progress” improved in several areas:

  • From 27% in 2014 to 53% in 2015 in letter knowledge
  • From 1% to 40% in vocabulary
  • From 47% in to 73% in phonological awareness

“It has been a journey,” said Shea Sultemeier, the prekindergarten instructional coach for the rural district 50 miles southeast of San Antonio. “Since the inception of TLI, several steps clearly impacted the positive growth of our prekindergarten students.”

Sultemeier went on to detail initiatives during the 4-year partnership, highlighting the work of Family Literacy Liaisons Thelma Deleon and Vanesa Deleon, a new position funded through TLI. Thelma Deleon was the school’s first liaison, and Vanesa Deleon joined her in the 2015–2016 school year. The family literacy liaisons visit homes and build literacy by reading with very young children before they are old enough for school, encouraging environmental print, informing parents about the importance of talking to babies and toddlers, and using technology to support English language development. As word has spread, more parents have contacted the liaisons for their input and support. Early in the process, Thelma Deleon formed a parent group that remains in place today. And this school year, Vanesa Deleon facilitated the Read and Rise parent course, which will result in a group of parent leaders to carry on building literacy in the home.

“The success of our 3- and 4-year-old programs is directly related to having family liaisons who build literacy in the home and involve the entire family in the process,” Sultemeier said. “The data show that the strong literacy foundation for families that is established in our district creates students who are more developmentally prepared to enter the elementary grades.”

Back in the school, the work has evolved over the 4 years of the partnership with TLI—work that continues today. In the first year, the 3- and 4-year-old programs determined what scientifically based curriculum to use, prekindergarten teachers collaborated with elementary teachers to build classroom management systems and procedures for vertical consistency, and an early childhood specialist observed and coached teachers to establish processes and goals. In subsequent years, Nixon-Smiley created a schedule for benchmarking and data analysis at the beginning, middle, and end of the year; continued to work with the early childhood specialist; established explicit lesson plan expectations based on prekindergarten guidelines; integrated writing into all centers; and partnered with the Ready Rosie early childhood engagement online program.

“The amazing thing to see is that when resources are introduced into [this] community, the payback happens,” Sultemeier said. “Investing in the young before school is crucial to the development of students’ and parents’ literacy. The evidence has been the impact the program has had on the language development of our prekindergarten students. The data show that the people and systems that have been put into place over the course of the TLI [partnership] have increased the success of our early childhood program.”

TLI, part of the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, works across the state to ensure that every child is prepared for the literacy demands of college and a career by high school graduation. For more information, visit the TLI project webpage.

Tags: Vaughn Gross Center  Texas Literacy Initiative 

Sharon Vaughn’s presentation to mark 40th anniversary of IDEA now available online
December 17, 2015

An archived video of the November symposium in Washington, D.C., marking the 40th anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—including a presentation on intensive interventions by MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn—is now available online. To view the presentations, visit the U.S. Department of Education's Edstream Video Library.

Survey targets educators’ perspectives on instructional support and professional development needs
November 17, 2015

The Texas Education Agency and The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk are conducting a survey to learn more about teachers’ perspectives on the literacy development of all learners and preferences for professional development. The information gathered will guide the development of training modules and classroom resources designed to assist teachers in the transition from state assessments based on modified standards to the general state assessment, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®). More information on this initiative is available on the Targeting the 2 Percent project webpage.

Educators who work with students in grades kindergarten to grade 5 are encouraged to complete the short survey.

To ensure that we hear from as many stakeholders as possible, we also ask that you forward this message to other possible participants.

Tags: Reading Institute  Targeting the 2 Percent 

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn to speak at celebration of 40th anniversary of IDEA
November 5, 2015

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will join a panel of national experts presenting at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in Washington, D.C. 

Vaughn will present on literacy during a symposium from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on November 17 at the U.S. Department of Education's Barnard Auditorium. She will join a panel including Sue Swenson (family engagement), Lynn Fuchs (mathematics), Rob Horner (school climate/social and behavior), Lise Fox (early childhood), Michael Wehmeyer (inclusion), Lisa Dieker (teacher training), and David Test (secondary/transition). According to the U.S. Department of Education, during this event, "distinguished researchers [will] share the state of evidence in special education and look [toward] the future for promoting even greater educational achievement by students with disabilities."

To watch the event, visit the department's live stream. The event also will be archived for later viewing on the department's Edstream Video Library.

Earlier that day, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., an event will be held at the White House, in which officials and youth affected by IDEA will speak. To view that event, visit the White House Live site.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, "When IDEA was enacted in 1975, America pledged to provide and ensure that children with disabilities have opportunities to develop their talents and contribute to their communities. That pledge endures today and IDEA continues to provide not only access to the school house, to assessment, and to the general curriculum, but the full promise of inclusion, equity, and opportunity."

Project ELITE presents findings at U.S. Department of Education briefing on effective practices
October 13, 2015

Principal Investigator Greg Roberts and Co-Principal Investigator Leticia Grimaldo presented findings from the English Learner Institute for Teaching and Excellence (Project ELITE) at a U.S. Department of Education briefing on effective practices on September 21 in Washington, D.C. 

Along with other researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Colorado Boulder, Roberts and Grimaldo described the findings of the 4-year Model Demonstration Project (Cohort 5), which focuses on implementing multitiered systems of support for English learners. The presentation explored guidance to administrators, teachers, instructional coaches, and policymakers in implementing a culturally and linguistically responsive multitiered model in schools with bilingual education and English as a second language programs. Specific topics presented included the following:

  • Effective literacy instructional and assessment practices
  • Use of data to inform the special education eligibility process
  • Professional development, partnerships, and capacity building
  • Contextual variables that affect implementation across settings

Following the presentation, the panel fielded questions from a diverse audience of educators and other stakeholders.

To view an archived recording of the presentation, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

The work of Cohort 5 is summarized in the Effective Practices for English Learners practice brief series, available in the Resources section of the Project ELITE webpage.

Tags: Language for Learning Institute  English Learner Institute for Teaching and Excellence: Project ELITE 

Two schools selected for extended support through Middle School Matters Institute
September 28, 2015

Two schools have been selected to receive an additional year of support through the Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI), including on-site professional development and ongoing coaching from national education experts and the necessary resources to implement proven strategies in mathematics.

Advanced Studies Magnet–Haut Gap Middle School in Johns Island, South Carolina, and Uplift Mighty Preparatory in Fort Worth, Texas, were selected after submitting detailed proposals that outlined goals for the 2015–2016 school year and described the benefits of continued support. Haut Gap originally was selected to receive support through MSMI in the 2014–2015 school year; Uplift Mighty was selected in the 2013–2014 school year.

MSMI is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. MSMI develops and disseminates resources that increase access to research on and proven practical strategies for middle school improvement. The goal of MSMI is to increase the number of students well prepared for high school and postsecondary success. MSMI is part of the Bush Institute's Middle School Matters program.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

Visiting scholar to explore ‘Myths and Misunderstandings in Deaf Education’
September 2, 2015

Marc Marschark, director of the Center for Education Research Partnerships in New York, will present "Myths and Misunderstandings in Deaf Education (and Why You Should Care)" from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on September 23 in the Dean's Conference Room (Room 238) of the Sanchez Building at UT Austin. No RSVP is needed to attend.

"Recent research indicating that deaf children learn differently [from] their hearing peers in several domains and are more diverse in their knowledge and learning strategies should allow us to build on their strengths and accommodate their needs (if anyone were willing to accept the evidence)," Marschark writes, noting the performance gap between deaf learners and their hearing peers that persists despite progress in deaf education.

The Center for Education Research Partnerships is within the Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf. For more information on the presenter, visit Marschark's profile page.

Tags: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute 

New report on deeper learning for students with disabilities is now available
August 11, 2015

"Deeper Learning for Students With Disabilities," a newly published report by MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and colleagues, is now available free of charge. 

The report—part of the Deeper Learning Research Series, which is published by Jobs for the Future's Students at the Center initiative—explores "core instructional practices that are feasible to implement in every classroom and that facilitate learning for students with many kinds of needs." The authors also argue that "the field of special education has important insights and expertise to share with the deeper learning movement in general." 

To learn more about the series and download this report, visit the Jobs for the Future website.

Code sheet streamlines the process of gathering data on studies for syntheses and meta-analyses
June 19, 2015

MCPER has published a code sheet that researchers can use to systematically gather information and data from studies identified for inclusion in syntheses and meta-analyses. These data include (but are not limited to) study participant characteristics, intervention components, treatment fidelity, and student outcomes. The accompanying manual provides guidelines for coder training, achieving reliability in using the code sheets, and data entry formatting and tips. The tool is free for researchers to use, but appropriate citation is required. To download the code sheet and manual and view the required citation, visit the MCPER Library.

Several MCPER researchers have already used the code sheet in their syntheses and meta-analyses. Click the links in the following list to read the studies.

Edmonds, M. S., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Reutebuch, C., Cable, A., Tackett, K. K., & Schnakenberg, J. W. (2009). A synthesis of reading interventions and effects on reading comprehension outcomes for older struggling readers. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 262–300.

Scammacca, N., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Edmonds, M. S., Wexler, J., Reutebuch, C., & Torgesen, J. K. (2007). Interventions for adolescent struggling readers: A meta-analysis with implications for practice. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research, Center on Instruction. 

Scammacca, N. K., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., & Stuebing, K. K. (2013). A meta-analysis of interventions for struggling readers in grades 4–12: 1980–2011. Journal of Learning Disabilities. Advance online publication.

Solis, M., Ciullo, S., Vaughn, S., Pyle, N., Hassaram, B., & Leroux, A. (2011). Reading comprehension interventions for middle school students with learning disabilities: A synthesis of 30 years of research. Journal of Learning Disabilities. Advance online publication.

Wanzek, J., Wexler, J., Vaughn, S., & Ciullo, S. (2010). Reading interventions for struggling readers in the upper elementary grades: A synthesis of 20 years of research. Reading and Writing, 23, 889–912.

Wanzek, J., & Vaughn, S. (2007). Research-based implications from extensive early reading interventions. School Psychology Review, 36(4), 541–561.

Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M., & Capin, P. (2015). Meta-analyses of the effects of tier 2 type reading interventions in grades K–3. Educational Psychology Review, 1–26.

Wexler, J., Vaughn, S., Edmonds, M., & Reutebuch, C. K. (2008). A synthesis of fluency interventions for secondary struggling readers. Reading and Writing, 21, 317–347.

New project to examine professional development models for fourth-grade vocabulary, comprehension
June 10, 2015

MCPER researchers have been awarded a $3.5 million, 4-year federal grant to gauge the effectiveness of different professional development models aimed at vocabulary and reading comprehension instruction in fourth-grade content area classes. 

In each research year of the new project—Examining the Efficacy of Differential Levels of Professional Development for Teaching Content Area Reading Strategies—60 fourth-grade teachers and their students will join the study. Teachers will attend an annual conference at UT Austin, where they will learn the vocabulary and comprehension components they will use in their classrooms over the course of the school year. The project will measure and compare the effectiveness of professional development versus a control condition in the first year and then compare different types of professional development in subsequent years.

Elizabeth Swanson will lead the project as principal investigator with MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and Associate Director Greg Roberts as co-principal investigators. The funding is through the National Center for Education Research.