News from September 2019

Christine Espin to be featured in College of Education’s EdTalks series
September 24, 2019

October's installment of the College of Education's EdTalks series will feature an assessment expert from the Netherlands.

Christine Espin of Leiden University will present "Use of Curriculum-Based Measurement Data for Educational Decision Making" from 10 to 11 a.m. on October 31 in Room 352 of the Sanchez Building. In the abstract for the presentation, Espin writes that she will explore "a data-based system designed to closely monitor the progress of students with learning difficulties: curriculum-based measurement (CBM). In the presentation, research focused on teachers’ ability to understand and interpret CBM progress monitoring data will be described, and potential factors contributing to teachers’ ability to understand and interpret the data will be discussed. In addition, methods for improving teachers’ ability to understand, interpret, and use CBM data for decision making will be discussed."

Espin is a professor of learning problems and specialized interventions in education. She has published more than 60 articles and 17 book chapters related to CBM and teachers’ use of student assessment data.

MCPER's Jessica Toste applied for and received funding from the UT Austin Academic Enrichment Fund to bring Espin to campus for the guest lecture.

Dr. Vaughn to give Norman Geschwind Memorial Lecture
September 24, 2019

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn is scheduled to give the Norman Geschwind Memorial Lecture at the annual International Dyslexia Association conference in November.

The conference will take place November 7–10 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Dr. Vaughn’s lecture, titled “Teaching Literacy Effectively is Life Changing,” is scheduled for Saturday at 8 a.m.

In her lecture, Dr. Vaughn will identify essential features of instruction and go over ways to integrate those features into interventions and general education instruction.

The conference is open for registration.

Learn more about the program.

Dyslexia Foundation conference set for October 18 at Harvard Medical School
September 23, 2019

The Dyslexia Foundation is playing host to a conference this fall that will investigate spelling and orthography's role in reading.

“Understanding Spelling, Orthography, and Their Links to Reading” will be held on October 18 at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, including how to register, an agenda, and list of featured speakers, visit The Dyslexia Foundation's website.

News from August 2019

MCPER’s Nancy Scammacca Lewis to serve as principal member of federal grant review panel
August 30, 2019

Nancy Scammacca Lewis, a researcher with multiple projects in MCPER's Reading Institute, has accepted an invitation to serve as a principal member on a federal grant review panel.

Lewis will serve on the Special Education Research panel of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which meets once a year in the Washington, DC, area. 

"IES invites individuals to become principal members on the basis of their professional contributions to education sciences and related fields, as well as their outstanding prior service on IES research grant peer review panels," according to the IES invitation. "Principal members play an important role in the research grant peer review process by providing continuity of scholarly expertise and familiarity with the peer review process across years."

Lewis is a research methods expert who has worked on projects involving quantitative and qualitative research design and data analysis, meta-analysis, program evaluation, survey construction, and survey data analysis. Her expertise includes advanced statistical techniques such as hierarchical linear modeling, structural equation modeling, and regression-discontinuity analysis. She has a Ph.D. in educational psychology and an M.A. in program evaluation from The University of Texas at Austin, an M.A. in clinical psychology from Wheaton College, and a B.A. in psychology from Northwestern University.

News from July 2019

MCPER launches initiative to improve academic, behavioral interventions for Texas students
July 30, 2019

MCPER has received a $2 million, 1-year grant from the Texas Education Agency to develop and disseminate information about best practices related to academic and behavioral interventions.

Tiered Interventions Using Evidence-Based Research (TIER) will develop a set of modules related to multitiered systems of support in academics and behavior to improve the outcomes of students with or at risk for disability. The project also will create on-demand versions of each module so educators across Texas can access the materials independently at their convenience.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Texas Education Agency and educators across Texas to ensure that all schools have support systems in place to improve the outcomes of students with disabilities," said Sarah Powell, TIER principal investigator. "We are embarking on an ambitious project with materials that could be utilized by every educator in Texas."

For more information, visit the TIER project webpage.

Tags: Response to Intervention Institute  Tiered Interventions Using Evidence-Based Research (TIER) 

New project examines reading intervention efficacy for students with disabilities
July 9, 2019

MCPER researchers have been awarded a 5-year, $3.3 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to examine the efficacy of a reading intervention for students with disabilities.

The project, Promoting Comprehension and Content Acquisition for Students With Disabilities, targets middle school students with learning disabilities in a study of the previously developed PACT intervention. Approximately 16,000 students, including an estimated 1,280 students with disabilities, will participate in the study implemented by social studies teachers at 32 urban and suburban middle schools in Texas and Tennessee.

PACT was developed and tested for efficacy with middle school students in social studies classrooms as part of a previously funded Institute of Education Sciences project. Data from that study suggest the intervention is promising for learners with disabilities, but it has yet to be rigorously tested with this group of students.

"We are grateful and excited for this opportunity to build on our previous PACT research," said Leticia Martinez, co-principal investigator of the project and director of MCPER's Language for Learning Institute. "There is a need to identify evidence-based practices to assist teachers in improving outcomes for our students with disabilities, considering how many of these students receive instruction in the general education classroom, and we intend for our findings to contribute to this knowledge base."

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn is the principal investigator of the project. In addition to Martinez, MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts and Jeanne Wanzek of Vanderbilt University are co-principal investigators.

Tags: Reading Institute 

Sarah Powell wins Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
July 5, 2019

Sarah Powell, principal investigator of multiple MCPER projects and fellow in the Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs, has won the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

The award is the "highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology," according to a White House press release. President Trump announced the winners on July 2. Powell was nominated by the U.S. Department of Education. She will receive the award at a White House ceremony.

Established in 1996 by President Clinton, the award "embodies the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the leadership position of the United States in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers and nurturing their continued development. The Awards identify a cadre of outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to the participating agencies," according to the National Science Foundation website.  

Please join us in congratulating Powell on this outstanding achievement.

Tags: Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs 

News from March 2019

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn to run Boston Marathon to raise money for dyslexia research
March 22, 2019

Sharon Vaughn, executive director of The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, will raise money for the The Dyslexia Foundation while running in the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15.

The partnership is part of the festivities surrounding the 30th anniversary of The Dyslexia Foundation. "Like her steadfast belief that each child with dyslexia counts, let’s make each of the 62,926 steps in her run to cross the finish line count toward advancing our knowledge of dyslexia and translating it to classroom instruction," the foundation wrote when announcing the initiative.

For more information and to donate, visit the Dyslexia Foundation website.

Project AIM is recruiting schools for 2019–2020 school year
March 22, 2019

Project AIM is seeking sixth-grade mathematics interventionists to partner in a 1-year algebra-readiness intervention study.

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 study also requires comparison classes.

Project AIM has developed four intervention modules to improve students' mathematics performance through conceptual understanding, problem-solving ability, and self-regulation skills. Participating schools will receive electronic copies of all instructional materials upon completion of the study, allowing them to use the research-validated practices in subsequent years. In addition, participating teachers will receive a $300 to $400 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 January 2019

New report examines best practices for identifying specific learning disabilities
January 30, 2019

The Texas Center for Learning Disabilities has published a new report that summarizes the research base for popular methods for the identification of specific learning disabilities and makes recommendations for practice. 

The Identification of Specific Learning Disabilities: A Summary of Research on Best Practices—authored by Principal Investigators Jack Fletcher and Jeremy Miciak, both of the University of Houston—begins with a summary of the legal requirements for specific learning disability identification and the necessary components and features of a comprehensive evaluation for special education. It then discusses the attributes of specific learning disabilities according to different conceptual frameworks and reviews research on the reliability and validity of different methods for identification. The report concludes with recommendations for best practice.

The Texas Center for Learning Disabilities is a partnership between the University of Houston, The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Center research leads to a more comprehensive classification of learning disabilities, a more integrated understanding of intervention for children with reading problems, and important cross-discipline insights into the nature of learning disabilities. Currently, this research takes the form of four projects to be conducted over the next five years.

For more information and to download the report, visit the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities website.

Tags: Reading Institute  Texas Center for Learning Disabilities