News from November 2018

MCPER updates mission statement, strategic goals
November 26, 2018

The Board of Directors of The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk has adopted a new mission statement and strategic goals.

Mission Statement

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) is dedicated to generating, disseminating, and supporting the implementation of empirically validated, evidence-based practices to significantly affect student outcomes and support educators, researchers, policymakers, families, and other stakeholders who strive to improve academic, behavioral, and social outcomes for all learners.

Strategic Goals

Goal 1

Further establish MCPER's national and international influence on evidence-based practice for the educational community.

Action 1: Expand MCPER's presence on social media and other relevant forms of communication to disseminate evidence-based practices, knowledge, and products to key stakeholders. Further enhance MCPER’s role as the go-to national and international resource for evidence-based practice.

Action 2: Further engage the Office of Communications in the College of Education to support MCPER personnel to improve the overall quality of the website and further align with the college website. Facilitate the ease of access to materials and resources.

Action 3: Encourage all MCPER representatives to make available materials and resources as well as website information at all appropriate events.

Goal 2

Further establish MCPER's research, evaluation, and professional development portfolio while remaining aligned with the mission statement.

Action 1: Refine all support services for enhancing knowledge about and access to external funding for research, evaluation, and professional development related to MCPER's mission.

Action 2: Refine access to and development of resources to enhance success in obtaining external support.

Goal 3

Establish a systematic process for recruiting, communicating, and maintaining relationships with educational settings as sites for research.

Action 1: Develop a directory representing all stakeholders who have engaged in research or expressed interest in participating in research.

Action 2: Develop a systematic method of recruiting and retaining appropriate communication with all educational stakeholders who have participated in research.

Action 3: Establish a communication loop between participating stakeholders and MCPER personnel about evidence-based practices developed so that conducting research, establishing evidence-based practices, and informing stakeholders is a seamless and ongoing process.

Action 4: Establish a procedure for determining and documenting sustainability of evidence-based practices with stakeholder partners when research projects are completed.

Goal 4

Establish a responsible and appropriate mechanism for reciprocal communication between MCPER and an educational leadership team (ELT) at UT Austin.

Action 1: Report to the appropriate contact in the ELT who is knowledgeable about external funding and can interact effectively with the ELT and MCPER leadership.

Action 2: Work toward the ELT recognizing MCPER’s mission and influencing and supporting identification of appropriate resources and decisions related to MCPER’s functioning.

Sharon Vaughn leads workshop in Minnesota as organization’s 2018 Distinguished Scholar
November 1, 2018

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn recently shared her expertise during a Distinguished Scholar Symposium for the Higher Education Literacy Partnership of Minnesota (HELP). 

The workshop, held September 28 at the Minnesota Department of Education offices, was based on her book RTI in the Common Core Classroom: A Framework for Instruction and Assessment, co-authored with MCPER researchers Phil Capin, Garrett Roberts, and Melodee Walker. 

The Distinguished Scholar Series features a “single-day workshop held each fall that brings world-class scholarship to Minnesota educators [and] personal interaction with the speaker, as well as peer-to-peer learning and networking,” according to the HELP Events webpage. Past Distinguished Scholars include nationally recognized researchers Barbara Foorman, Steven Graham, Nonie Lesaux, Catherine Snow, and Maryanne Wolf.

Based on their feedback, participants enjoyed the symposium. One special education teacher reported that it was “one of the better—if not best—one-day conferences I have been involved in!” A literacy coach appreciated the “combination of research and practical application.” For more feedback, visit the HELP Comments webpage.

Earlier this summer, RTI in the Common Core Classroom was the topic of two HELP Book Clubs. The Book Clubs are held each summer to "stimulate conversation about the application of research to teacher preparation, professional learning, assessment, and reading instruction."

News from October 2018

Singapore Ministry of Education to visit, collaborate with MCPER researchers
October 12, 2018

Representatives from the Singapore Ministry of Education will visit Austin this month to work alongside researchers from The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and see the center’s research in action in local classrooms. 

The three-person delegation—Lai Shan Teo, Celine Chia, and Zhan Zhi Wong—will visit from October 29 to November 2. The agenda includes observing classrooms participating in MCPER’s Project BASICReading and Anxiety project, and Project ELITE; exploring MCPER’s many available resources on response to intervention; and exchanging research on progress monitoring. 

The ministry reached out to MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn for the visit because of the center’s prominence in the research community on these topics. MCPER Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Schnakenberg organized and will lead the visit, and Dawn Stanco handled the coordination. Other MCPER leads for the various events include Pam Bell, Phil Capin, Nathan Clemens, Shannon Giroir, Letti Grimaldo, and Elizabeth Stevens.

The ministry’s goals for the visit include developing knowledge in (1) Tier 3 literacy interventions for primary-age students with significant literacy difficulties, (2) coaching models that build schools’ capacity to support students with significant literacy difficulties, (3) school processes to sustain on-the-ground efforts, and (4) literacy development and intervention for preschool students with literacy and language difficulties.

MCPER partners with Humanities Texas on series of reading instruction workshops
October 11, 2018

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk has partnered with Humanities Texas to offer a series of workshops on best practices in reading instruction for fourth- and fifth-grade educators.

The workshops will take place in Austin on October 17, December 5, and January 30, and in San Antonio on October 18, December 6, and January 31. The workshops will cover evidence-based strategies for word study and recognition, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, as well as strategies specifically developed for English language learners and struggling learners. Workshop speakers include MCPER’s Jennifer Schnakenberg and MCPER collaborators Diane Haager of California State University, Los Angeles, and educational consultant María Elena Argüelles.

For more information, visit the Humanities Texas website.

News from September 2018

Latest “10 Key” guide explores research-based strategies for teaching English language learners
September 12, 2018

Experts from The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) have condensed the knowledge from a broad range of research into 10 practical ideas—and accompanying examples and scenarios—that states, school districts, and schools can use to ensure that all teachers provide high-quality instruction that leads to English language learners (ELLs) achieving rigorous standards.

"10 Key Policies and Practices for Teaching English Language Learners" offers recommendations and examples stated in clear language that are grounded in findings from solid research studies. Topics include understanding the wide variability in the ELL population and individual students' abilities and backgrounds, analyzing lessons to support ELLs' understanding of language and content, building on background knowledge, strategically using ELLs' native language, providing structured opportunities for ELLs to engage in peer discussion about content, and more. Also included is an extensive list of the research evidence supporting the recommendations. 

The document is the ninth installment of MCPER's "10 Key" series, which features similar lists of practical, research-based recommendations for specific topics of interest to educators. Links to all nine documents are available on the MCPER home page. 

Download "10 Key Policies and Practices for Teaching English Language Learners" today from the MCPER Library.

MCPER chosen to lead national network to study intersection of behavior and academics
September 10, 2018

MCPER has been awarded a $4 million federal grant to launch a national network to investigate how to better merge behavior support within reading and mathematics interventions. 

The new initiative, Behavior and Academic Supports: Integration and Cohesion (Project BASIC), is led by Principal Investigator Nathan Clemens. The award is through the Institute of Education Sciences Research Networks competition, which brings together research teams to "advance the field's understanding beyond what an individual team could do on its own. Combined, these research teams are charged with creating a body of knowledge and assisting policymakers and practitioners who need to use such information to strengthen education policies and programs to improve student education outcomes," according to the Institute of Education Sciences website.

Studies have shown that academic and behavioral difficulties are linked. This problem is no secret to educators, but merging intervention for academic and behavior skills has proven to be challenging. To investigate this issue, Project BASIC—already up and running in 10 elementary schools in Austin Independent School District—will examine how to more cohesively integrate behavior support strategies within reading and mathematics interventions for struggling learners in second and third grades. Across the first 2 years, Project BASIC will target the integration of behavior support within reading interventions. During years 3 and 4 of the project, the focus will shift to the integration of behavior support within mathematics interventions. A particular focus of the behavior support will be on academic engagement, which stands at the intersection of learning and behavior. The research team will use a sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART) to evaluate whether an adaptive intervention that embeds behavioral self-regulation strategies within increasingly intensive reading and math interventions leads to positive effects on academic and behavioral skills for students. 

For more information about Project BASIC, contact the team at

Tags: Reading Institute  Behavior and Academic Supports: Integration and Cohesion (Project BASIC) 

News from August 2018

Eric Bramblett wins Dean’s Excellence Award
August 27, 2018

MCPER administrative team member Eric Bramblett has received a 2017–2018 Dean’s Excellence Award for his contribution to the Workday project for the College of Education.

Bramblett was designated as one of six “super users” who helped the Workday implementation team customize the new human resources and payroll system for The University of Texas at Austin. He participated in early rounds of user acceptance testing and has spent the last year providing the team with valuable feedback in preparation for the November 2018 launch.

Bramblett received his B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1988 and his J.D. from Texas Tech University in 1999. He has provided administrative support, accounting, HR, and grant administration services to the center for 19 years.

News from June 2018

Sharon Vaughn presents at Dyslexia Foundation conference in South Africa
June 25, 2018

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn presented at The Dyslexia Foundation’s Extraordinary Brain Symposium, which took place June 23–29 in Winterton, South Africa.

The sympoium's theme was "Dyslexia 101: Revisiting Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Policy." Vaughn presented findings from reading comprehension intervention studies that she and her research team have conducted with students with dyslexia in grades 4–9. This research was conducted as part of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her presentation will form the basis of a chapter in Volume 17 of the Extraordinary Brain Series, which will be published in September 2019.

MCPER’s Philip Capin, Elizabeth Stevens, and Kelly Williams were also in attendance and presented their work. Based on data collected from the Promoting Adolescents Comprehension of Text project, Capin presented "Examining the Effects of a Middle-School Intervention Aiming to Improve Students’ Reading Comprehension and Content Knowledge: A Focus on Treatment Fidelity." Stevens presented the findings from her dissertation study: "The Effects of a Text Structure and Paraphrasing Intervention on the Main Idea Generation and Reading Comprehension of Struggling Readers in Grades 4 and 5." Williams presented initial findings from Project Goal: "Effects of an Intensive Reading Intervention for High School English Learners With Disabilities."

Math and Science Institute director, principal investigator present at conference in Belize
June 7, 2018

Diane Pedrotty Bryant, director of MCPER's Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs, and Brian R. Bryant, an institute principal investigator and fellow, were invited to present at the Building Bridges III Conference from May 30 to June 1 in Belize City, Belize.

The event was a collaborative effort of the Belize Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture and the University of Nevada Las Vegas to learn from one another and explore cooperative research and practice projects. Building Bridges is an annual conference that moves each year to a different country.

Diane Pedrotty Bryant presented the paper “Elements of Effective Instruction: Key Features of Early Mathematics Interventions,” and Brian R. Bryant presented the poster session “Differentiating Instruction Using the ADAPT Framework.”

The video, made available by Channel 5 Belize, features an interview with Candy Armstrong, the director for education support services in the Belize Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture. The video includes footage of Brian R. Bryant presenting.

Tags: Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs 

News from March 2018

U.S. Department of Education newsletter features MCPER resource on partner reading
March 29, 2018

A new MCPER publication is featured in the March 2018 newsletter of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

"Partner Reading: An Evidence-Based Practice – Teacher's Guide" was developed by MCPER's PACT Plus project. The guide provides teachers with a feasible procedure for partner reading—a research-based instructional routine incorporating peer modeling into reading—that can be used in middle school classrooms. The guide features an explanation of the research on partner reading; an overview of the routine, including setting up the classroom, modeling the procedure, and selecting and preparing a text; and two lesson plans and materials.

The monthly OSEP newsletter "provides stakeholder resources and timely news related to OSEP and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [and] highlights information that affects ... state and discretionary grantees, families, educators, practitioners, administrators, researchers, and more," according to OSEP. To subscribe to the newsletter, visit the OSEP website.

Tags: Reading Institute  PACT Plus