Educational Access Research Institute Director Stephanie Cawthon and Fellow Katie Dawson have been selected to deliver a master class at the 27th American Alliance for Theatre and Education national conference next summer in Denver, CO. The master class, "Nailing Jello to the Wall: Measuring the Impact of Your Arts Programming," will explore how to develop a research and evaluation plan for arts and arts-integrated programming. For more information, see the conference program.
The American Alliance for Theatre and Education "works to ensure that every young person experiences quality theatre arts...provided by proficient, talented artists and educators," according to the alliance website.
The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services selected Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute Director Mark O’Reilly and Institute Fellow Terry Falcomata to conduct an extensive review of comprehensive treatment programs for young children with autism. Additionally, O’Reilly and Falcomata will evaluate the department's current autism program—serving areas including San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston—and provide recommendations to increase effectiveness of the program in terms of child outcomes and the number of children who receive services. For more information, visit the Evaluation of Early Intervention Programs for Children With Autism in Texas project page.
Middle grade schools nationwide can apply online now to receive Tier II support and attend the 2014 Middle School Matters Institute (MSMI) Summer Conference.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. Central Standard Time on February 3, 2014. An application is not complete until both parts have been submitted—after completing part 1, the online application, schools will be directed to part 2, the Middle School Matters School Readiness Assessment.
Eight schools from across the nation will be chosen to receive Tier II support throughout the 2014–2015 school year and attend the conference, which will be held June 17–19, 2014, at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin, Texas. Registration and meals will be provided for six members of each school’s leadership team. Conference participants will hear from national education experts and develop implementation plans aligned with school data and research-based practices. Schools will implement the plans with ongoing expert support throughout the 2014–2015 school year.
The overall goal of MSMI is to improve outcomes for all middle grade students and increase the number of students well prepared to enter high school and earn a meaningful diploma.
For more information—including the benefits of becoming a Tier II school, the responsibilities of selected schools, and details about the conference—download the promotional flyer, visit the MSMI website, or e-mail Project Director Christy Murray.
Tags: Middle School Matters Institute
William Tunmer and Jane Prochnow of Massey University in New Zealand will summarize arguments and evidence showing that New Zealand's national literacy strategy has failed and the role of the Reading Recovery program in that failure.
Tunmer and Prochnow will present "Has Reading Recovery Worked? A Case Study of New Zealand’s National Literacy Strategy" from 3 to 5 p.m. on November 19 in the Dean's Conference Room (SZB 238). To RSVP and receive presentation materials, send an e-mail with "Reading Recovery" in the subject line to email@example.com.
Tunmer and Prochnow will discuss data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Studies (2001, 2006, 2011) that indicate that no progress has been made in reducing New Zealand's relatively large inequities in literacy achievement outcomes. According to the scholars, an examination of annual monitoring reports of Reading Recovery data over the past decade reveals that the nationally implemented program has been of marginal benefit in general and of virtually no benefit to struggling readers most at risk of failing to learn to read. Tunmer and Prochnow also will briefly consider factors contributing to the failure of New Zealand's national literacy strategy and what can be done to overcome the problem.
Former MCPER researcher Mikyung Shin and Mathematics Institute Director Diane Bryant have co-authored a paper to be published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities. "A Synthesis of Mathematical and Cognitive Performances of Students With Mathematics Learning Disabilities" synthesizes the findings from 23 articles that compared the mathematical and cognitive performances of students with mathematics learning disabilities (LD) to (a) students with LD in mathematics and reading, (b) age- or grade-matched students with no LD, and (c) mathematical-ability-matched younger students with no LD. The study has been published online ahead of the upcoming print version.
Mathematics Institute Director Diane Bryant has been invited to speak at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics 2013 regional conference from November 6 to 8 in Louisville, Kentucky. Bryant will present "RtI: Tier II Intervention Lessons for Elementary Students." For more information, visit the conference website.
Texas Literacy Initiative sees success in Arlington ISD
October 29, 2013
For the community, its educators, and—most importantly—more than 40,000 students, the Texas Literacy Initiative’s early work in Arlington Independent School District is already paying off.
The Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI) works to improve the school readiness and success in language and literacy of disadvantaged students in targeted local education agencies and their associated early childhood education providers. In Arlington Independent School District (ISD) alone, TLI works with 14 early childhood education centers, 31 elementary schools, 6 junior high schools, 3 high schools, and the Arlington Public Library. In very little time, TLI has helped Arlington ISD accomplish a great deal in the areas of professional development, data collection and analysis, and community involvement.
Professional development is a focus of TLI efforts in the district, including sessions on the features of effective instruction, vocabulary and oral language development, and phonological awareness. The vocabulary session was delivered in a “training of trainers” format, in which TLI planned and practiced with campus coaches prior to them, in turn, training teachers. Follow-up by coaches with teachers during grade-level meetings and implementation visits will help support a deep understanding of the content, effective instructional delivery, and engaged and motivated students.
On her blog, an Arlington ISD junior high teacher wrote the following about trying out a vocabulary routine that she learned through TLI professional development. “By the time we finished, one of my girls called me over and said, ‘Are we going to do more words this way? This was fun!’ Out of all my students, she was one of the last I expected to hear this from.”
TLI also conducts technical assistance observations in Arlington ISD. According to Becki Krsnak, the TLI project manager in the district, these visits “have been eye opening not only for the teachers and administrators on those campuses, but also for our district specialists. ... Conversations now focus on not only modeling these instructional strategies, but also on aligning trainings from grade level to grade level, following up on trainings, repeating basic trainings annually, and exploring the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and how to teach them. From these visits, campuses have requested targeted professional development, including planning sessions and demonstration lessons with teachers.”
TLI stresses the importance of data for all involved with the initiative. Now, Arlington ISD teachers in prekindergarten through second grade administer assessments three times a year, allowing district specialists, teachers, and administrators to identify missing links in their primary instruction. Teachers hold focused data discussions and district specialists align their support to match student need.
Last year, TLI held two meetings for principals, early childhood education directors, and campus representatives to review data and identify strengths and areas of need. These data meetings have led to a district TLI plan and individual site and campus plans, which are reviewed and revised throughout each school year.
Further, teams from each campus have completed an inventory to identify their level of implementation in several areas. Campuses use these data to identify action steps and participate in an online course that provides research-based information to guide their efforts.
Increased community involvement is another positive effect of TLI work throughout the district. Through its close partnership with TLI, the Arlington Public Library has provided many services to young children, parenting classes for the parents of prekindergarten students, literacy mentoring programs for high school students, training for daycare teachers, and parent training on effective read-alouds.
For more information about TLI, visit the Striving Readers page of the U.S. Department of Education website.
MCPER's Lisa McCulley recently answered a request to lead a workshop in California on how to implement the research-based strategies developed as part of the Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text (PACT) project—and the response has been very positive.
"You were a sensation," wrote Dr. Ruth Nathan, chair of McCulley's sessions from October 18 to 20 at Asilomar 62, an annual conference held in Pacific Grove, California. "And not only because of the thoughtful PACT protocol that you so beautifully took us through, but for your 'boots on the ground' knowledge that brought research-based and proven practice to teachers tired of being lectured to, teachers tired of Ivory Tower expertise with little classroom experience being forced on them in daylong workshops...and tired because so many of them have too many students (some as high as 39) in their very diverse classrooms. What a breath of fresh air!"
Conference organizers in California learned of the PACT intervention and its proven effects from "Improving Reading Comprehension and Social Studies Knowledge in Middle School," a paper in Reading Research Quarterly detailing a study that the What Works Clearinghouse recently found to "meet evidence standards without reservation." Nathan requested someone with teaching experience and work in the classrooms involved with PACT to lead four sessions and an "Around the Hearth" discussion. McCulley fit the bill. Before joining MCPER, McCulley was a secondary language arts and reading teacher for 21 years. For PACT, she both develops the intervention and supports teachers.
For more information, visit the PACT project page.
Sharon Vaughn wins Career Research Excellence Award
October 21, 2013
Sharon Vaughn, executive director of MCPER and director emeritus of VGC, has received UT Austin's Career Research Excellence Award. For full details on the honor, including reaction from Vaughn and College of Education Dean Manuel J. Justiz, read the official MCPER announcement.
MCPER researcher Nancy Scammacca Lewis, Associate Director Greg Roberts, and Executive Director Sharon Vaughn, along with University of Houston colleague Karla Stuebing, have published an update to their wide-ranging meta-analysis of interventions for struggling readers. "A Meta-Analysis of Interventions for Struggling Readers in Grades 4–12: 1980–2011" will appear in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Learning Disabilities. Currently, the article is published online. In the new publication, the authors expand their 2007 review to include studies published from 2005 to 2011, finding considerably smaller mean effects. The authors attribute the decline in effect sizes in part to "increased use of standardized measures, more rigorous and complex research designs, differences in participant characteristics, and improvements in the schools' 'business-as-usual' instruction that often serves as the comparison condition in intervention studies."
Tags: Reading Institute