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Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute adds two new fellows
April 25, 2016

Tom Humphries and Poorna Kushalnagar have joined MCPER's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute as its newest institute fellows.

Humphries is associate professor and associate director of the Teacher Education Program as well as associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. One strand of his current work focuses on how "talking culture" among Deaf people in recent history informs our understanding of cultural processes and how meaning circulates. In addition, he has developed a teacher training curriculum that uses a new construct: the application of indigenous bilingual teaching practices to classrooms of deaf children. He has published two widely used American Sign Language textbooks, Learning American Sign Language (Allyn & Bacon, 2004) and A Basic Course in American Sign Language (TJ Publishers, 1980). He is co-author (with Carol Padden) of Deaf in America: Voices From a Culture (1988) and the newly released Inside Deaf Culture, both from Harvard University Press. He received his Ph.D. in cross cultural communication and language learning from Union Graduate School. 

Kushalnagar is a research associate professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) pediatric research loan repayment award and research supplement to promote diversity in health-related research for her postdoctoral training at the University of Washington. She served as a research fellow for an NIH Institutional National Research Service Award in community-based participatory research at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She also participated in a 2011 NIH and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Summer Institute on Applied Research in Child and Adolescent Development. Kushalnagar is the principal investigator of two active NIH grant awards (R01 and R15). She has extensive experience in conducting and supervising educational and neuropsychological assessments with deaf and hard of hearing students. Kushalnagar received her B.A. in psychology from Gallaudet University and her M.A. in psychology and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Houston. She will deliver a MCPER-sponsored talk titled "Promoting and Measuring Health-Related Quality of Life Outcomes in Deaf Youth and Adults" from noon to 2 p.m. on May 4 in Room 310 of UT Austin's Sanchez Building

Tags: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute 

New fellow Poorna Kushalnagar to present on patient-reported outcomes in deaf youth and adults
April 25, 2016

Poorna Kushalnagar, one of two new Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute fellows, will present "Promoting and Measuring Health-Related Quality of Life Outcomes in Deaf Youth and Adults" from noon to 2 p.m. on May 4 in Room 310 of the Sanchez Building.

Kushalnagar is a research associate professor in the Chester F. Carlson ​Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The following is from the event description: "Incorporating patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in research with patients who are deaf and use American Sign Language is essential for early symptom detection and prevention. This talk provides insight on the importance of using well-developed and validated PROs to assess the deaf patient's experience that are seldom captured during clinician-based evaluations, summarizes the methodological steps to develop generic and deaf-specific PRO measures, and discusses challenges related to integrating PROs into research and clinical practice with deaf youth and adults."

Tags: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Institute 

Central Texas School District Mathematics Forum targets district issues in mathematics instruction
April 25, 2016

MCPER's Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties held a Central Texas School District Mathematics Forum luncheon on April 22. The purpose of the forum was to identify and problem-solve issues that districts encounter in mathematics instruction. Administrators and curriculum directors and specialists attended the forum. Barbara Dougherty, a research professor at the University of Missouri and Mathematics Institute fellow, was featured as the luncheon speaker. The Math Institute looks forward to more collaborative partnerships with school districts.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

Second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide is now available
March 29, 2016

A completely revamped second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide, the only such compilation of research focused on the middle grades, has been published and is now available online.

The field guide is a collection of research-based principles, practices, and strategies deemed essential for middle school success. Experts from across the country contributed to the field guide, which contains examples and illustrations for each recommended practice to help educators understand and then implement these practices in their classrooms and schools.

The Middle School Matters Institute, in partnership with the George W. Bush Institute, led the development of the second edition. 

To download the entire field guide or individual sections, visit the MCPER Library. For more information, read the Bush Institute press release.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

MCPER’s Sarah Powell recognized for journal’s best practice article of year
March 1, 2016

Sarah Powell, a principal investigator in MCPER's Mathematics Institute, has won the Samuel A. Kirk Award for the best practice article of 2015 in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice.

Powell co-authored "Intensive Intervention in Mathematics" with Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University. For a description and full citation of the article, visit the MCPER Library. For more information or to obtain the article, visit the journal's website.

Powell joins Eunsoo Cho and colleagues, who won the Kirk Award for the research category.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

Eunsoo Cho, MCPER colleagues win Samuel A. Kirk Award for journal’s best research article of 2015
February 25, 2016

Eunsoo Cho, a postdoctoral fellow in MCPER's Reading Institute, has been honored as the lead author of a prestigious journal's best research article of 2015.

"Cognitive Attributes, Attention, and Self-Efficacy of Adequate and Inadequate Responders in a Fourth-Grade Reading Intervention" won the Samuel A. Kirk Award for 2015, which recognizes the best research article in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. Cho's co-authors included MCPER researchers Garrett Roberts and Philip Capin, Associate Director Greg Roberts, Executive Director Sharon Vaughn, and Jeremy Miciak of the University of Houston.

For a description and full citation of the article, visit the MCPER Library. For more information or to obtain the article, visit the journal's website.

MCPER's Sarah Powell won the Kirk Award in the practice category.

Tags: Reading Institute  Texas Center for Learning Disabilities 

MCPER alum Christopher Lemons wins Presidential Early Career Award
February 19, 2016

Christopher Lemons, a former MCPER staff researcher and current MCPER collaborator, has received the U.S. government’s highest honor for science and engineering researchers in the early stages of their careers.

President Obama selected Lemons among 105 recipients nationwide of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. President Clinton established the award in 1996 to recognize “innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and ... commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach,” according to a White House press release.

Lemons, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, is a principal investigator of the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention, a consortium that prepares special education leaders to become experts in research on intensive intervention for students with disabilities who have persistent and severe academic and/or behavioral difficulties. MCPER faculty members and scholars are part of the consortium through The University of Texas Austin, one of seven partner institutions. Lemons previously worked on multiple MCPER projects.

For more information on the prestigious award, see the White House press release.

Tags: Response to Intervention Institute  National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention 

New resource highlights top 10 research-based policies and practices for all schools
February 17, 2016

Leading experts from The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) have condensed the knowledge from a broad range of research into 10 key practical ideas that states and school districts can use to create policy and improve student outcomes.

"10 Key Policies and Practices for All Schools With Strong Evidence of Effectiveness From High-Quality Research" is a concise one-page document that offers recommendations stated in clear language that are grounded in findings from solid research studies. Topics include multitiered instructional systems; data management; intensive intervention; daily instruction and practice in reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary, and mathematics; assessment; and college and career readiness. The document is the first installment of MCPER's new "10 Key" series, which will create similar lists of practical, research-based recommendations for specific topics of interest to educators.

Download "10 Key Policies and Practices" today from the MCPER Library.

TLI partnership with Nixon-Smiley yields tremendous growth in prekindergarten
February 1, 2016

Through hard work and an ongoing partnership with the Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI), the prekindergarten program at Nixon-Smiley Elementary School has posted dramatic gains in literacy.

A comparison of the numbers from the beginning of the 2014–2015 school year to the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year speaks for itself—on the CLI Engage assessment, the percentage of prekindergarten students deemed as making “acceptable progress” improved in several areas:

  • From 27% in 2014 to 53% in 2015 in letter knowledge
  • From 1% to 40% in vocabulary
  • From 47% in to 73% in phonological awareness

“It has been a journey,” said Shea Sultemeier, the prekindergarten instructional coach for the rural district 50 miles southeast of San Antonio. “Since the inception of TLI, several steps clearly impacted the positive growth of our prekindergarten students.”

Sultemeier went on to detail initiatives during the 4-year partnership, highlighting the work of Family Literacy Liaisons Thelma Deleon and Vanesa Deleon, a new position funded through TLI. Thelma Deleon was the school’s first liaison, and Vanesa Deleon joined her in the 2015–2016 school year. The family literacy liaisons visit homes and build literacy by reading with very young children before they are old enough for school, encouraging environmental print, informing parents about the importance of talking to babies and toddlers, and using technology to support English language development. As word has spread, more parents have contacted the liaisons for their input and support. Early in the process, Thelma Deleon formed a parent group that remains in place today. And this school year, Vanesa Deleon facilitated the Read and Rise parent course, which will result in a group of parent leaders to carry on building literacy in the home.

“The success of our 3- and 4-year-old programs is directly related to having family liaisons who build literacy in the home and involve the entire family in the process,” Sultemeier said. “The data show that the strong literacy foundation for families that is established in our district creates students who are more developmentally prepared to enter the elementary grades.”

Back in the school, the work has evolved over the 4 years of the partnership with TLI—work that continues today. In the first year, the 3- and 4-year-old programs determined what scientifically based curriculum to use, prekindergarten teachers collaborated with elementary teachers to build classroom management systems and procedures for vertical consistency, and an early childhood specialist observed and coached teachers to establish processes and goals. In subsequent years, Nixon-Smiley created a schedule for benchmarking and data analysis at the beginning, middle, and end of the year; continued to work with the early childhood specialist; established explicit lesson plan expectations based on prekindergarten guidelines; integrated writing into all centers; and partnered with the Ready Rosie early childhood engagement online program.

“The amazing thing to see is that when resources are introduced into [this] community, the payback happens,” Sultemeier said. “Investing in the young before school is crucial to the development of students’ and parents’ literacy. The evidence has been the impact the program has had on the language development of our prekindergarten students. The data show that the people and systems that have been put into place over the course of the TLI [partnership] have increased the success of our early childhood program.”

TLI, part of the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, works across the state to ensure that every child is prepared for the literacy demands of college and a career by high school graduation. For more information, visit the TLI project webpage.

Tags: Vaughn Gross Center  Texas Literacy Initiative 

Sharon Vaughn’s presentation to mark 40th anniversary of IDEA now available online
December 17, 2015

An archived video of the November symposium in Washington, D.C., marking the 40th anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—including a presentation on intensive interventions by MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn—is now available online. To view the presentations, visit the U.S. Department of Education's Edstream Video Library.