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Mathematics Institute researchers and colleagues publish three articles
April 22, 2014

Several current and former researchers with the MCPER Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties—along with colleagues from MCPER, UT Austin, and other institutions—have published three research papers in peer-reviewed journals.

The Journal of Learning Disabilities accepted for publication a paper authored by Mathematics Institute Fellow Brian R. Bryant and Director Diane Pedrotty Bryant, UT Austin Department of Special Education graduates Jennifer Porterfield and Minyi Shih, MCPER Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute Fellow Terry Falcomata, UT Austin Department of Educational Psychology students Courtney Valentine and Chelsea Brewer, and independent consultant Kathy Bell. "The Effects of a Tier 3 Intervention on the Mathematics Performance of Second Grade Students With Severe Mathematics Difficulties" examines an intensive intervention program that proved successful in helping young children with serious mathematics difficulties learn fundamental numeracy skills.

The Journal of Behavioral Education accepted for publication an article by Brian Bryant, Department of Special Education graduate student Min Wook Ok, Mathematics Institute researcher Eunyoung Kang, MCPER Reading Institute researcher Min Kyung Kim, Autism Institute Fellow Russell Lang, Diane Bryant, and Mathematics Institute Principal Investigator Kathleen Pfannenstiel. Their article, "A Multi-Dimension Comparison of Mathematics Interventions for 4th Grade Students With Learning Disabilities," compared mathematics teacher-direct instruction, iPad applications, and a combined approach with fourth-grade students with mathematics learning disabilities. Findings showed that teacher-direct instruction and the combined approach produced more favorable results, but student social validity data supported the iPad applications.

Ok, Brian Bryant, and first author Kavita Rao of the University of Hawaii published an article in Remedial and Special Education. "A Review of Research on Universal Design Educational Models" provided a critical analysis of universal design for learning research conducted with school-age and postsecondary students.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

MSMI staff to present at GradNation Summit, International Reading Association Conference
April 18, 2014

Christy Murray, project director of the Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI), will serve as a panelist at the 2014 Building a GradNation Summit from April 27 to 29 in Washington, DC. In the session “The Class of 2020: Betting on Middle School,” Murray will present an overview of Middle School Matters, discuss the research-based practices in the Middle School Matters Field Guide, and share the experiences of schools that participated during the 2013–2014 school year. Other organizations represented in the session will include Spark, the National Human Services Assembly, and After-School All-Stars

Jacob Williams, MSMI deputy director, will facilitate a roundtable discussion at the International Reading Association 59th Annual Conference on May 11 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Williams will share information on using MSMI Implementation Plan Templates for reading and reading interventions. 

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

Three MCPER staff members to receive UT Staff Service Awards
April 10, 2014

Pamela Bell, director of MCPER's Response to Intervention Institute; Theresa Clarke of the CEEDAR External Evaluation; and Carlos Treviño of MCPER's Productions Team will each receive a UT Staff Service Award in recognition of their many years of excellent work at The University of Texas at Austin. Bell will be recognized for 15 years of service, and Clarke and Treviño will be recognized for 10 years of service. The Staff Service Awards Program "celebrates and recognizes the contributions of committed staff who are responsible for transforming lives for the benefit of society," according to the UT website. Both the centers and the university thank Bell, Clarke, and Treviño for their valuable contributions to our success.

Tags: Response to Intervention Institute 

Mathematics Institute publishes article on using the Good Behavior Game to reduce off-task behavior
March 24, 2014

MCPER Dropout Prevention Institute Fellow Andrea Flower, former Mathematics Institute researchers John McKenna and Colin Muething, and current Mathematics Institute Director Diane Bryant and Fellow Brian Bryant have published findings that suggest the Good Behavior Game can be used in high school classrooms to reduce classwide off-task behavior. “Effects of the Good Behavior Game on Classwide Off-Task Behavior in a High School Basic Algebra Resource Classroom” was published online ahead of an upcoming print version of the journal Behavior Modification. Flower, Bryant, and Bryant are faculty members in the UT Austin Department of Special Education, and McKenna is a recent graduate. Muething is a student in the UT Department of Educational Psychology.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

Middle School Matters Institute Advisory Board reviews accomplishments, sets course for future
March 11, 2014

Staff members from the George W. Bush Institute, The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, and the Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI) eight-member Advisory Board met on February 25 in Austin, Texas, to review this year’s accomplishments and plan for the upcoming year. The meeting was productive, and MSMI looks forward to implementing the valuable feedback.

The following serve on the MSMI Advisory Board:

  • Robert Balfanz, Johns Hopkins University
  • David Chard, Southern Methodist University
  • Priscilla Collins-Parhms, Uplift Education
  • Mark Dynarski, Pemberton Research
  • Art Graesser, University of Memphis
  • Steve Graham, Arizona State University
  • Gina Rodriguez, George W. Bush Institute
  • Sharon Vaughn, The University of Texas at Austin

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

Four MCPER alums accept new positions at universities, research center
March 7, 2014

MCPER congratulates and wishes the best of luck to Farah El Zein, Audrey Leroux, Kristie Metz, and Michael Solis as they begin new positions at universities across the country and a research center overseas.

El Zein, a graduate research assistant with MCPER's Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute, has accepted a senior research associate position at the Awsaj Center for Education Research and Development in Doha, Qatar. Leroux, a graduate research assistant with the MCPER Reading Institute, has accepted an assistant professor position at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Metz, a former graduate research assistant with the Reading Institute, is completing her internship and will begin a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Solis, also a researcher with the Reading Institute, has accepted an assistant professor position at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute Reading Institute 

MSTAR algebra-readiness modules for students with mathematics difficulties now available online
February 24, 2014

MCPER's Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties has posted online and made available for download its intervention modules on critical algebra-readiness concepts and skills for educators to use when teaching students with mathematics difficulties. Visit the Mathematics Institute website to learn more about and download the Middle School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (MSTAR) modules. MSTAR materials available online include lessons, vocabulary activities, and progress-monitoring measures.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

Visiting scholars to explore accessible assessment for students with disabilities, English learners
February 6, 2014

Researchers Leanne Ketterlin Geller and Rebecca Kopriva will present "Issues in Designing Accessible Assessments for Students With Disabilities and English Language Learners" from 1 to 2 p.m. on February 21 in Room 324 of the Sanchez Building at UT Austin. To attend, send an e-mail with "Accessible Assessments" in the subject line to

Geller, a fellow in MCPER's Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties, is an associate professor of education policy and leadership in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University. Kopriva is director and senior scientist at the Institute for Innovative Assessment in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

MCPER welcomes Jennifer Esterline as center’s first translational research coordinator
January 27, 2014

Jennifer Esterline has joined the MCPER team as the center’s first translational research coordinator.

Esterline is responsible for promoting the integration of MCPER research findings and evidence into education policy and practice. She will be the liaison between MCPER and other education stakeholders, such as policymakers, state agencies, private and corporate grantmakers, and education-related nonprofits and community organizations. She will also work directly with individual school districts across the state to establish closer ties of communication.

Esterline has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 15 years, first as a program manager and development director for both large and small nonprofit and higher education institutions and later as a program officer and executive director for the KDK-Harman Foundation in Austin for 6 years. Her primary work most recently has been as a consultant to nonprofits, focusing on encouraging private grantmakers across the state to promote, protect, and improve Texas public education through advocacy and public policy. She also has worked with national and statewide nonprofits in the areas of resource development, program evaluation, strategic grantmaking, board development, strategic planning, and advocacy.

Esterline received a B.A. in Latin American studies from The University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree in public affairs with a concentration in nonprofit and philanthropic studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

In the past decade, Esterline has volunteered for a variety of nonprofits in the fields of education and health and human services. Currently, she serves on the board of Texas Partnership for Out of School Time. She lives in Austin with her husband and two sons, Gabriel and Leo. She hopes to carry on the family tradition by inspiring her two young boys with a passion for nonprofit work and a commitment to public service.

MCPER fellow Russell Lang tabbed as co-editor of Developmental Neurorehabilitation journal
January 8, 2014

Russell Lang, a fellow in MCPER's Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute, has been selected to serve as co-editor of Developmental Neurorehabilitation, a peer-reviewed journal published by Informa Healthcare. Developmental Neurorehabilitation "aims to enhance recovery and rehabilitation in children with brain injury and neurological disorders," according to the journal's websiteLang is an assistant professor of special education at Texas State University – San Marcos and a board-certified behavior analyst.

Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute