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New report on deeper learning for students with disabilities is now available
August 11, 2015

"Deeper Learning for Students With Disabilities," a newly published report by MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and colleagues, is now available free of charge. 

The report—part of the Deeper Learning Research Series, which is published by Jobs for the Future's Students at the Center initiative—explores "core instructional practices that are feasible to implement in every classroom and that facilitate learning for students with many kinds of needs." The authors also argue that "the field of special education has important insights and expertise to share with the deeper learning movement in general." 

To learn more about the series and download this report, visit the Jobs for the Future website.

Code sheet streamlines the process of gathering data on studies for syntheses and meta-analyses
June 19, 2015

MCPER has published a code sheet that researchers can use to systematically gather information and data from studies identified for inclusion in syntheses and meta-analyses. These data include (but are not limited to) study participant characteristics, intervention components, treatment fidelity, and student outcomes. The accompanying manual provides guidelines for coder training, achieving reliability in using the code sheets, and data entry formatting and tips. The tool is free for researchers to use, but appropriate citation is required. To download the code sheet and manual and view the required citation, visit the MCPER Library.

Several MCPER researchers have already used the code sheet in their syntheses and meta-analyses. Click the links in the following list to read the studies.

Edmonds, M. S., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Reutebuch, C., Cable, A., Tackett, K. K., & Schnakenberg, J. W. (2009). A synthesis of reading interventions and effects on reading comprehension outcomes for older struggling readers. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 262–300.

Scammacca, N., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Edmonds, M. S., Wexler, J., Reutebuch, C., & Torgesen, J. K. (2007). Interventions for adolescent struggling readers: A meta-analysis with implications for practice. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research, Center on Instruction. 

Scammacca, N. K., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., & Stuebing, K. K. (2013). A meta-analysis of interventions for struggling readers in grades 4–12: 1980–2011. Journal of Learning Disabilities. Advance online publication.

Solis, M., Ciullo, S., Vaughn, S., Pyle, N., Hassaram, B., & Leroux, A. (2011). Reading comprehension interventions for middle school students with learning disabilities: A synthesis of 30 years of research. Journal of Learning Disabilities. Advance online publication.

Wanzek, J., Wexler, J., Vaughn, S., & Ciullo, S. (2010). Reading interventions for struggling readers in the upper elementary grades: A synthesis of 20 years of research. Reading and Writing, 23, 889–912.

Wanzek, J., & Vaughn, S. (2007). Research-based implications from extensive early reading interventions. School Psychology Review, 36(4), 541–561.

Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M., & Capin, P. (2015). Meta-analyses of the effects of tier 2 type reading interventions in grades K–3. Educational Psychology Review, 1–26.

Wexler, J., Vaughn, S., Edmonds, M., & Reutebuch, C. K. (2008). A synthesis of fluency interventions for secondary struggling readers. Reading and Writing, 21, 317–347.

New project to examine professional development models for fourth-grade vocabulary, comprehension
June 10, 2015

MCPER researchers have been awarded a $3.5 million, 4-year federal grant to gauge the effectiveness of different professional development models aimed at vocabulary and reading comprehension instruction in fourth-grade content area classes. 

In each research year of the new project—Examining the Efficacy of Differential Levels of Professional Development for Teaching Content Area Reading Strategies—60 fourth-grade teachers and their students will join the study. Teachers will attend an annual conference at UT Austin, where they will learn the vocabulary and comprehension components they will use in their classrooms over the course of the school year. The project will measure and compare the effectiveness of professional development versus a control condition in the first year and then compare different types of professional development in subsequent years.

Elizabeth Swanson will lead the project as principal investigator with MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and Associate Director Greg Roberts as co-principal investigators. The funding is through the National Center for Education Research.

New grant targets preparation of doctoral scholars in learning disabilities, behavior disorders
May 28, 2015

MCPER has received a $1.2 million, 5-year federal grant to train doctoral students in the field of learning disabilities and behavior disorders.

The purpose of the project is to prepare five highly qualified doctoral graduates who can bridge the gap between research and practice by becoming leaders who are well trained in multitiered systems of support for students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders. The project will employ a research-to-practice leadership model that engages the collaborative efforts of the faculty in the UT Austin Department of Special Education, professional development and policy leaders at MCPER and the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts, and school district leaders. Mathematics Institute Director Diane Pedrotty Bryant will be the principal investigator of the project, and MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will be the co-principal investigator.

The funding is from the Office of Special Education Programs within the U.S. Department of Education.

Three school districts selected to receive expert assistance from Middle School Matters Institute
May 28, 2015

Three school districts in two states have been selected as the third cohort of sites to receive guidance from nationally recognized experts in research-based instructional strategies through the Middle School Matters Institute.

Etiwanda School District in Southern California and Pharr–San Juan–Alamo and San Angelo independent school districts in Texas were selected after a rigorous review process. District leadership teams and leaders from two schools in each district will attend the third annual Middle School Matters Institute Summer Conference in June in Austin, Texas. In the 2015–2016 school year, the districts will implement what they learned at the conference with support from a team of experts.

The Middle School Matters program is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. For more information, read the press release from the George W. Bush Institute.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

MCPER Math Institute Director delivers Distinguished Lecture, Research Talk at Purdue University
May 27, 2015

Diane Pedrotty Bryant, director of the MCPER Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties, recently delivered a Distinguished Lecture and Distinguished Research Talk on mathematics and students with mathematics difficulties and disabilities at Purdue University. The talks were supported by funding from that National Science Foundation and the Purdue University College of Education Office of Discovery and Faculty Development to Purdue's Dr. Yan Ping Xin.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

New $3 million grant targets word problem intervention for third-graders with math difficulties
May 22, 2015

MCPER has received a $3 million federal grant to test a word problem intervention for third-graders with or at risk for mathematics difficulties.

The new 3-year project—Developing Connections Between Word Problems and Mathematical Equations to Promote Word Problem Performance Among Students With Mathematics Difficulty—will assess whether equation-solving instruction conducted within the context of word problem intervention leads to improved word problem solving for this population of students. Each year, the project will recruit 150 third-grade students with or at risk for mathematics difficulties and provide individual intervention to 100 students. Sarah Powell with serve as principal investigator of the project, with Marcia Barnes as the co-principal investigator, MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts as the methodologist, and Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University and Jon Star of Harvard University as consultants.

The funding is from the National Center for Special Education Research within the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

New module explains how schools can use free app to monitor their response to intervention implementation
May 20, 2015

The Building Response to Intervention Capacity for Texas Schools project has released a new a "how-to" module for its Campus Response to Intervention Progress Monitoring Tool (RTI-PMT), a free app for electronic tablets and computers.

The RTI-PMT provides real-time data on how an elementary campus’ RTI model is working during an academic year. It promotes collaboration among grade-level teams in identifying entry and exit criteria for each intervention setting (or tier) and proactive decision-making related to resources and professional development support. The tool is simple to use: After each screening assessment, educators enter the names of their at-risk students and assign an intervention setting. The app organizes and displays data at the teacher, grade, and campus levels in pie charts or bar charts. When data are updated at the beginning, middle, and end of year, the displays show progress in meeting students’ needs, as students move to less intensive settings or exit intervention. The tool also can be used to share campus success with stakeholders.

For more information and to access both the module and the app, visit the Building RTI Capacity website.

Tags: Response to Intervention Institute  Building Capacity for Response to Intervention Implementation Project 

MCPER receives $3.5 million grant to improve literacy, prevent dropout with at-risk English learners
May 19, 2015

MCPER has been awarded a $3.5 million federal grant to launch a 4-year project to improve literacy, increase engagement, and prevent dropout with at-risk high school English learners.

The new project, Preventing Dropout Among At-Risk Youth: A Study of Project GOAL With English Learners, will provide small-group reading instruction and a dropout prevention program to high school English learners who are struggling readers and are at risk of dropping out of school. Researchers will evaluate the effects of an individualized reading intervention and a dropout intervention separately and in combination. The interventions will be provided to students in their 9th- and 10th-grade years, and follow-up measures of cognitive and behavioral outcomes will be collected during their 11th- and 12th-grade years. The project is expected to contribute to the knowledge base on effective literacy instruction, strategies that increase school engagement, and scalable policies and practices that reduce dropout among at-risk English learners in high school who struggle to read for understanding.

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education, the project will build on the work of the previous MCPER project Preventing School Dropout With Secondary Students: Project GOAL, which was found to increase at-risk high schoolers' engagement and reading comprehension. MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will be the principal investigator; MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts and Language for Learning Institute Director Letty Martinez will serve as co-principal investigators.

Paper by Autism Institute Director Mark O’Reilly, international colleagues wins journal’s 2014 Editors’ Award
May 8, 2015

A paper by Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute Director Mark O'Reilly and colleagues from four different countries has won the 2014 Editor's Award for the journal Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

"Tangible Symbols as an AAC Option for Individuals With Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies" earned the most votes from the journal's associate editors to win the annual award. O'Reilly co-authored the article with Laura Roche, Jeff Sigafoos, Vanessa Green, and Larah van der Meer of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand; Giulio E. Lancioni of the University of Bari in Italy; Dean Sutherland of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand; Ralf Schlosser of Northeastern University in Boston; Peter Marschik of the Medical University of Graz in Austria; and Chaturi Edrisinha of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. The authors reviewed nine studies that evaluated the use of tangible symbols in alternative and augmentative communication interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities, finding the technique promising but in need of further research.

Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute