January 25, 2022

MCPER is launching a new research project after receiving federal funding through the Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education program.

Math SPIRAL: Specialized Intervention to Reach All Learners, a 4-year project, is one of only two such programs nationwide in the first round of funding from the National Center for Special Education Research within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The financial assistance award totals $2,987,746 with 100% funded by IES. MCPER Associate Director Sarah Powell will serve as the principal investigator.

"This grant program seeks to address the urgent challenges districts and schools face in supporting students with or at risk for disabilities, their teachers, and their families in the aftermath of the pandemic," according to an IES announcement. "The grants must be directly related to a pandemic problem, issue, or intervention; have the potential to rapidly improve outcomes for students with disabilities; and provide timely and actionable results to districts and schools."

The new project will test the efficacy of Math SPIRAL, a series of professional learning sessions with coaching for teachers. Each of these teachers works with students in grades 4–5 identified as having or being at risk for math disabilities through the previous year's mathematics State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The project will be carried out in Austin Independent School District, where the students who required small-group math intervention increased 24% in grade 3 and 23% in grade 4 from 2019 to 2021. State legislation mandates small-group math intervention for students identified through testing, so educators need an appropriate curriculum with relevant professional development and coaching.

For more information, visit the IES website.