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MCPER Senior Associate Director Greg Roberts guest edits special section in top research journal
December 14, 2021

MCPER Senior Associate Director Greg Roberts has guest edited a special section in a recently published edition of Exceptional Children, a top research journal in the field.

The special section—devoted to adaptive intervention (AI) and sequential multiassignment randomized trials (SMART) designs—appeared in the October 2021 issue of the journal. In addition to editing the section, Roberts was the lead author in an article that provided an overview of AI and SMART, described Project BASIC (MCPER's own AI/SMART project), and introduced the two other research articles in the section. MCPER's Nathan Clemens, Christian Doabler, and Executive Director Sharon Vaughn are among the article's co-authors. The other articles in the special section are "Getting SMART About Social Skills Interventions for Students With ASD in Inclusive Classrooms" and "Early Lessons Learned in Designing an Adaptive Shared Reading Intervention for Preschoolers With Autism."

The impact factor for Exceptional Children is in the top 10 among developmental and educational psychology journals and in the top 20 of all education-focused journals. It is number 3 among journals that address special populations.

Sarah Powell named associate director of MCPER
December 7, 2021

Sarah Powell—a member of the MCPER Board of Directors, principal investigator of multiple MCPER projects, and associate professor with the UT Austin Department of Special Education—has been named the associate director of MCPER.

“Sarah is a tremendous addition to the MCPER leadership team,” said Greg Roberts, who will be continuing with MCPER as its new senior associate director. “She is an accomplished scholar, a skilled professional development provider, and a terrific colleague. She brings energy, ideas, and enthusiasm to her role as associate director, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration.”

Powell began her work with MCPER in 2013. In her new role, she will work with the MCPER leadership team and coordinate efforts related to outreach. Powell has big plans to expand MCPER’s expertise and reach, and she is eager to get to work.

“I want to develop meaningful avenues for sharing research with educators and caregivers,” she said. “I also want to develop ways for MCPER to be a go-to resource for evidence-based practices for educators across the world.”

Powell is the daughter of two teachers, and two of her grandparents were teachers. “I couldn’t have avoided this if I tried!” she said.

Powell graduated from Centre College and then went to Vanderbilt University for a degree in school administration. Along the way, she taught kindergarten and spent several years working on research projects focused on students who experience difficulty with mathematics. She earned her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University with a focus on special education. Among her many awards, Powell received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2019.

At MCPER, Powell is principal investigator of the Developing Connections Between Word Problems and Mathematical Equations, Interactive Read-Alouds for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Skills, Promoting Scientific Explorers Among Students With Learning Disabilities, and Tiered Interventions Using Evidence-Based Research projects.

Plus join us in congratulating Dr. Powell!

MCPER partner featured in struggling readers webcast, article on science of teaching reading
December 2, 2021

The executive director of curriculum and instruction for Midlothian Integrated School District, a partner of MCPER, served as an expert in two major newspapers' features on reading instruction, and both are now available online.

Becki Krsnak was a panelist for a webcast about science- and data-based practices to improve flagging reading rates on Nov. 16 as part of The Seattle Times's Ed Lab Solutions project. View the webcast online.

Krsnak, along with MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn, also was featured in a story by The Dallas Morning News about the science of teaching reading. That story is available on the newspaper's website.

Vaughn to serve on expert panel for virtual conference to address declining reading performance, widening gap
May 28, 2021

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will serve on an expert panel for a virtual conference to address the declining reading performance of America’s lowest-performing readers and the widening gap between low- and high-performing readers.

"IES Reading Summit: Linking Data and Learning" will be held on June 8 and 9. The event is co-hosted by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Council of the Great City Schools.

For more information, and to register for this free event, visit the conference website.

MCPER’s partnership with Humanities Texas continues with online institute in June
May 26, 2021

MCPER researchers and collaborators will lead another installment of their institute series with Humanities Texas in June—this time, focusing on reading instruction for English language arts and social studies teachers in grades 6 to 8.

"Teaching Evidence-Based Reading Practices at the Secondary Level" will be held online from June 15 to 17, featuring MCPER Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Schnakenberg and longtime MCPER collaborators Diane Haager and María Elena Argüelles. The Zoom sessions will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. each day, and an optional follow-up webinar will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on July 26. The content will align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and will focus on reading instruction and content area literacy using social studies texts. 

This free institute is available to all sixth- through eighth-grade English language arts and social studies teachers in Texas. To register, and for more information, visit the Humanities Texas website. Registration closes at 5 p.m. on June 10.

Sharon Vaughn wins inaugural Dean’s Distinguished Research Award
May 25, 2021

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn is the first recipient of the College of Education Dean's Distinguished Research Award.

The honor, established to recognize a faculty member's distinguished and sustained record of research and scholarly contributions, was awarded by Dean Charles R. Martinez Jr.

Vaughn is renowned for her research on the development and evaluation of instructional practices to improve outcomes for students with reading difficulties. She is the most highly cited female professor at The University of Texas at Austin and among the 20 most highly cited professors overall. Vaughn also is the director of MCPER's Reading and Dropout Prevention institutes; the Manuel J. Justiz Endowed Chair in Math, Science, and Technology in Teacher Education; and a professor in the Department of Special Education: Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders program.

New service provides parents, caregivers with information from childhood experts via text messaging
May 20, 2021

MCPER is dedicated to disseminating information that supports families as they develop strong and healthy learners. To that end, we want to make our readers aware of a new texting service that provides parents and caregivers of kids prenatal to age 8 with information from early childhood experts on topics including developmental milestones; brain development; mental health and resilience; social-emotional competence; STEM; language and literacy; nutrition; health; and local events, resources, and activities.

Bright by Text is free to all Texans. To receive tips and learning games to your phone, text "#TexasKids" to 2-74448 or sign up online.

For more information, visit the Bright by Text website, view an informational flyer, or view a postcard provided in English and Spanish.

MCPER executive director, resource featured in The Dallas Morning News
May 7, 2021

A story in The Dallas Morning News that explores the benefits of quick, informal assessments for prekindergarten and kindergarten to lessen the "COVID slide" features MCPER expertise.

Executive Director Sharon Vaughn is quoted in the story, "How can a One-Minute Kindergarten Test Help Teachers Tackle the ‘Covid Slide?’," which also links to the MCPER publication 10 Key Policies and Practices for Reading Intervention. To read the story, visit the website of The Dallas Morning News.

UT Austin spotlights MCPER’s Precision Math project
May 4, 2021

A new feature by The University of Texas at Austin spotlights MCPER's Precision Math project, which aims to overcome systemic barriers and promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion for multilingual students in early STEM.

Precision Math, funded by a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is currently testing an evidence-based, integrated STEM intervention for first-grade multilingual students. At MCPER, the project is led by Christian Doabler, Leticia Martinez, and Maria Longhi. Also involved are UT Austin professor Eric Knuth and colleagues at the University of Oregon and Oregon Research Institute. 

For more information and to read the article, including quotes from Doabler and College of Education Dean Charles R. Martinez Jr., visit the UT Austin website.

Tags: Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs 

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn appointed to national education research committee
April 22, 2021

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn has been selected to serve on National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Committee on the Future of Education Research.

Vaughn will serve on the committee with educational research experts across the nation. Their goal is to inform the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on "(a) critical problems where new research is needed; (b) new methods or approaches for conducting research; and (c) new types of research training investments," according to the National Academies website. The committee begins its work in early May.