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News from February 2021

Christy Austin wins another award for her outstanding scholarship
February 24, 2021

MCPER's Christy Austin has won the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) John Wills Lloyd Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. 

The award includes a $500 stipend, up to an additional $500 for travel to receive the award at the CEC Annual Convention, a 1-year membership in CEC, an opportunity to present the research at the CEC 2021 Annual Convention, and an invitation to submit the research for publication in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice.

This award is the second Austin has won in recent weeks. Previously, she won the CEC Student Research Award

News from January 2021

MCPER seeks postdoctoral scholar for new research opportunity
January 11, 2021

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) is looking for a postdoctoral scholar to participate on research teams developing and validating intensive interventions as part of multitiered systems of support (MTSS).

This paid position begins in August/September 2021. Members of traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Send a letter of interest and curriculum vita to Dawn Stanco.

This project is part of a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The aim of this 5-year grant is to prepare a cohort of highly qualified fellows to conduct research in special education, educational psychology, and other disciplines; understand how to interpret the findings and implications of this research; and prepare educators in how to intensify academic and behavioral interventions. The program will cover education sciences research related to academic outcomes for individuals with disabilities, methodology and statistics, and the policies and pragmatics of research in educational settings. 

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn, principal investigator of this project, and key investigators Greg Roberts, Nathan Clemens, Sarah Powell, Chris Doabler, and Elizabeth Swanson will collaboratively lead the project and serve as mentors. Together, they bring years of experience and expertise on quantitative methods, research design, assessment and effective intervention, quantitative methodology in program evaluation, data management and analysis, and modern measurement theory. 

News from December 2020

Christy Austin wins Council for Exceptional Children Student Research Award
December 4, 2020

MCPER’s Christy Austin has won a national award in recognition of her high-quality study on word-reading and word-meaning instruction for fourth- and fifth-grade students with dyslexia.

Austin won the Council for Exceptional Children Student Research Award for a manuscript based on her doctoral dissertation, which she completed with MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn as her advisor. A maximum of four Student Research Awards are given annually. Austin will be recognized at the council’s 2020 Convention and Expo and will receive a cash award.

The study, “The Relative Effects of Instruction Integrating Word Reading and Word Meaning Compared to Word Reading Instruction Alone on the Accuracy, Fluency, and Word Meaning Knowledge of Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students With Dyslexia,” found that the combined instruction significantly improved accuracy, fluency, and word-meaning knowledge immediately following the intervention and at a follow-up posttest. The findings suggest that students with dyslexia, who often receive intervention focused solely on word reading, would benefit from brief instruction in word meaning.

Though Austin continues her work with MCPER as a consultant, she now serves as an assistant professor at the University of Utah in the Educational Psychology Department’s Reading and Literacy Program.

News from October 2020

Project AIM is recruiting schools for 2020–2021 school year
October 2, 2020

Project AIM is seeking sixth-grade mathematics interventionists to partner in a 1-year algebra-readiness intervention study. Project AIM is designed to help struggling learners improve their mathematics achievement and reach grade-level performance.

To qualify, schools must have at least one math interventionist who teaches at least two class periods of students struggling in math. This randomized control trial study also requires comparison classes.

The Project AIM staff developed four intervention modules to improve students' mathematics performance through conceptual understanding, problem-solving ability, and self-regulation skills. Participating schools will receive all instructional materials upon completion of the study, allowing teachers to use the research-validated practices in subsequent years. In-person classes will be provided class materials. Online-based classes will be provided digital versions of materials. In addition, participating teachers will receive an $800 stipend and a half-day of professional development.

More information is available online or by contacting Principal Investigator Diane Pedrotty Bryant.

Tags: Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs  Algebra-Readiness Mathematics Intervention for Middle School Students: Project AIM 

News from September 2020

Reading instruction workshops for fourth to sixth grades to be held online
September 30, 2020

MCPER and Humanities Texas are set to begin the third round of their popular workshops on best practices in reading instruction for fourth- through sixth-grade educators. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshops will be held online.

The series will consist of eight 2-hour sessions beginning October 7. The final session will be held on February 24. Participants are expected to attend all sessions. Presenters will include MCPER Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Schnakenberg and longtime MCPER collaborators Diane Haager and María Elena Argüelles.

The workshops will feature interactive sessions on word study and recognition, vocabulary, and reading comprehension with an emphasis on social studies texts, struggling readers, English language learners, and students who fell behind as a result of recent instructional disruptions. Each workshop will build on the previous session and align with the reading and comprehension Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.  

Participating teachers will receive CPE credit and curricular materials.

For more information, including how to register, visit the Humanities Texas website.

News from July 2020

MCPER researchers to examine ways to improve outcomes for English learners as part of new center
July 9, 2020

English learners, students whose primary language is one other than English, represent one of the fastest-growing student populations in the United States. These students contribute an abundance of cultural and linguistic knowledge to schools. However, national data consistently show that these students underperform relative to their monolingual peers. There is, therefore, a pressing need to identify evidence-based practices to improve educational policies and instructional practices for English learners.

With a $10 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, a team led by David Francis of the University of Houston that includes MCPER researchers will meet this challenge by establishing a national research and development center dedicated to improving educational outcomes for English learners in the secondary grades.

Francis, the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair of Psychology at the University of Houston, will serve as the director of the new research center. The MCPER team will include Sharon Vaughn, who will serve as the associate director, and Leticia Martinez and Phil Capin, who will serve as co-principal investigators. The investigative team will include other prominent researchers, including Diane August and Joel Gómez (Center for Applied Linguistics), Catherine Snow (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Michael J. Kieffer and Lorena Llosa (New York University), Suzanne Donovan (Strategic Education Research Partnership), and Jeremy Miciak and Coleen Carlson (University of Houston).

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to explore and better understand the specific needs of English learners and the most effective ways to enhance their academic outcomes,” Vaughn said. “I am thankful to have the opportunity to collaborate with this impressive team and eager to get started.” 

Federally funded research and development centers have a mission to produce and disseminate rigorous evidence and products that provide practical solutions to important educational challenges. The new educational research center will examine policies and system-level practices that influence English learners; develop and test content area literacy approaches for improving social studies and science knowledge among English learners; and develop a robust dissemination network to ensure that findings reach school teachers, administrators, and policymakers nationwide.

Specifically, the MCPER team will lead the development and testing of social studies practices for English learners in grades 6 and 9. Through a series of randomized control trials over the next 5 years, the center will test the effectiveness of these instructional approaches in Texas and New York.

News from June 2020

Sharon Vaughn co-authors evidence brief on supporting students with disabilities
June 29, 2020

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn has co-authored an evidence brief on supporting students with disabilities, one of three works released to launch the EdResearch for Recovery Project. 

The project, a national effort led by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and Results for America, is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. EdResearch for Recovery will provide "rapid-turnaround evidence briefs from top researchers to help answer the most pressing education-related questions from policymakers, educators, parents, and other advocates as they respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a press release. "The project team identified two dozen priority questions, and asked leading researchers to write short briefs—grounded in peer-reviewed research and evidence—to help inform key decision points and recovery strategies for policymakers, educators, and other leaders."

Vaughn co-authored her brief, Academic Supports for Students With Disabilities, with Nathan Jones of Boston University and Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University. For more information, including a list of planned topics, visit the EdResearch for Recovery website.

News from February 2020

MCPER selected as authorized provider for implementation of House Bill 3 Texas Reading Academies
February 5, 2020

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk has been approved as an authorized provider of the upcoming Reading Academies for K–3 teachers statewide.

Mandated by House Bill 3, passed by the 86th Texas Legislature, K–3 teachers must attend the professional development academies by the 2021–2022 school year.

As an authorized provider, MCPER will partner with local education agencies across the state to conduct registration, logistics, technical assistance, implementation of the professional development, and program evaluation. Local education agencies interested in partnering with us can contact MCPER by email.

For more information, visit the Texas Education Agency website.  

News from January 2020

MCPER project on anxiety and struggling readers to be featured at Dyslexia Foundation conference
January 9, 2020

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and Boston University's Amie Grills will present next month at a national conference of The Dyslexia Foundation at UCLA.

Their presentation, "Classroom Strategies to Address Anxiety in Children Who Struggle With Reading," will explore the MCPER project Improving Reading and Reducing Reading Anxiety Among Students With Reading Difficulties. Along with MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts, Vaughn and Grills are co-principal investigators of the project, the first and only initiative with 2 years of data on anxiety and struggling readers. 

The theme of this year's conference, to be held on February 14, is "Dyslexia and Literacy: Understanding Anxiety and the Struggling Reader." According to The Dyslexia Foundation, the conference is designed to help "teachers, practitioners, and parents ... learn to identify, understand, and provide evidence-based instruction for struggling readers who have anxiety. The focus of these discussions will be for school-age students." For more information and to register, visit the website of The Dyslexia Foundation.

Tags: Reading Institute  Improving Reading and Reducing Reading Anxiety Among Students With Reading Difficulties 

News from December 2019

Sharon Vaughn to present at international conference in Paris
December 11, 2019

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will be featured at the third International Conference of the French National Education Scientific Council next month in Paris, France.

Vaughn will present "Promoting Access to Learning for Children With Disabilities" at the event, held on January 9 at the Collège de France. For more information, read the conference program, which is provided in both French and English.