Reading Institute


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Colleen Reutebuch

Dr. Colleen Reutebuch is a director of the Reading Institute, project director of the External Evaluator for National Center for System Improvement and the National Deaf Center, principal investigator of the Targeting the 2 Percent project, and co-principal Investigator on Project READ. For more information, read Reutebuch's full bio.

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Sharon Vaughn

Dr. Sharon Vaughn is the executive director of MCPER, director of the Reading Institute, and a director of the Dropout Prevention Institute. For more information, read Vaughn's full bio.

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Jessica Church-Lang

Dr. Jessica Church-Lang is an assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. Church-Lang received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008. She has a strong interest in how cognitive processes develop over age and in how research on atypical development illuminates the vulnerable aspects of typical cognitive development. Research in the lab currently focuses on the development of cognitive skills such as task switching and reading in late childhood and early adolescence. She heads the neuroimaging arm of the MCPER and VGC project on fourth-grade reading intervention. The project investigates whether neuroimaging can reveal differences between struggling readers who respond to intervention and those who don't, as well as differences between struggling and nonstruggling readers during sentence comprehension. The project is particularly interested in how regions of the brain involved in attention relate to reading disorders. As part of the reading intervention project, as well as in other research efforts, her team explores the development of short-duration, rapidly adjusting adaptive control brain networks, how they might be different in typical and atypical development, and how they interact over age with the rest of the brain. To address these questions, she uses behavioral methods such as cognitive tests (measuring reaction times, accuracy on tasks, or eye movements), neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging (fMRI, resting-state fcMRI), and studies of patient populations (e.g., children with Tourette syndrome or dyslexia). To contact Church-Lang, visit the UT Austin Department of Psychology website.

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Stephen Ciullo

Dr. Stephen Ciullo is an assistant professor of special education at Texas State University. After teaching special education in New York, Ciullo earned a doctoral degree in special education with an emphasis on learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and reading from The University of Texas at Austin. He has experience working as a researcher on several grants and intervention studies funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters pertaining to evidence-based practices for students with reading difficulties. He teaches courses focused on reading instruction and inclusion for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. His current research includes intervention studies to enhance content learning and reading in students with high-incidence disabilities in grades 4–12. To contact Ciullo, visit the Texas State website.

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Carolyn Denton

Dr. Carolyn Denton is a professor of pediatrics in the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Denton's primary focus is on the identification, prevention, and remediation of reading difficulties and disabilities in children in kindergarten to grade 12, including multitiered systems of support, the identification of learning disabilities, and the role of the reading coach. Her current research projects examine interventions for children who have both ADHD and serious reading difficulties, an early reading intervention targeting both comprehension and decoding, and adolescent reading engagement and comprehension. She is the author or co-author of numerous articles, book chapters, and books, and has consulted, trained teachers and administrators, and presented her research across the United States and in Europe and Asia. To contact Denton, visit the Children's Learning Institute website.

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Deborah Simmons

Dr. Deborah Simmons is a professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. Simmons has served on the faculties of Bowling Green State University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Oregon. Since joining the faculty at Texas A&M University in 2004, she has directed or co-directed research grants from the Institute of Education Sciences that have developed and evaluated interventions to improve language and literacy outcomes for students with or at risk of academic difficulties. She is a standing panel reviewer for the Institute of Education Sciences. She was recognized by the American Educational Research Association and American Psychological Association with awards for outstanding articles in their journals. She was the recipient of the Jeanette Fleischner Award for outstanding contribution to the field of learning disabilities from the Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children and the Faculty Mentoring Award in the College of Education and Human Development. Her current research focuses on prevention and intervention of reading difficulties. To contact Simmons, visit the Texas A&M University website.

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Jessica Toste

Dr. Jessica R. Toste is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Toste received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from McGill University (Montreal) in 2011. Her research interests are related to students with learning disabilities and effective reading interventions, with a particular focus on psychosocial processes and classroom climate as determinants of school success. She has published articles and book chapters on resilience factors related to achievement and psychosocial functioning of at-risk youth. She was trained in reading intervention research as a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University (2011–2013) and as a Fulbright scholar/visiting researcher at the Florida Center for Reading Research (2008–2009). She was the recipient of the Canadian Education Association’s 2012 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education. She is also a licensed elementary school teacher in Quebec and has extensive experience as a reading specialist. To contact Toste, visit the UT Austin Department of Special Education website.

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Nathan Clemens

Dr. Nathan Clemens' research and teaching focus on improving instruction and intervention for students with reading difficulties or dyslexia in preschool through adolescence. More specifically, Clemens works to improve teachers' use of assessment data to better understand their students' progress and to align and individualize evidence-based interventions with their students' unique learning needs. He also seeks to better understand interventions and key practices that are effective for students with the most intensive learning difficulties. He joined the UT Austin Department of Special Education in 2016. Previously, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in school psychology from Lehigh University in 2009.

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Marty Hougen

Dr. Martha “Marty” Hougen is the principal investigator of the College and Career Readiness Initiative: English/Language Arts Faculty Collaborative. Hougen’s recent work focuses on improving preservice teacher education by providing university teacher educators with ongoing professional development and collaborative opportunities. She has worked with struggling readers as a general and special education teacher and administrator and as a university faculty member. She consults with state departments, universities, and school districts across the country on teacher education, reading, and special education. Hougen has authored several publications and is currently working on a book about effective reading instruction.

Photo of Colleen Reutebuch

Colleen Reutebuch

Dr. Colleen Reutebuch is a director of the Reading Institute, project director of the External Evaluator for National Center for System Improvement and the National Deaf Center, principal investigator of the Targeting the 2 Percent project, and co-principal Investigator on Project READ. For more information, read Reutebuch's full bio.

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Greg Roberts

Dr. Greg Roberts is the associate director of MCPER. For more information, read Roberts' full bio.

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Jennifer B. Schnakenberg

Dr. Jennifer B. Schnakenberg is the chief operating officer of MCPER. For more information, read Schnakenberg's full bio.

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Elizabeth Swanson

Dr. Elizabeth Swanson is principal investigator of the Strategies for Reading Information and Vocabulary Effectively (STRIVE) project, co-investigator of the Promoting Adolescents’ Comprehension of Text (PACT) project, and co-principal investigator of the Promoting Adolescents’ Comprehension of Text + Responsive Instruction for Students With Disabilities (PACT+) project. For more information, read Swanson's full bio.

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Kaci Bonine

Kaci Bonine serves as an assessment coordinator for MCPER. Bonine works with school districts in Austin and the surrounding area to coordinate teacher observations and research projects, including the Center for Research and Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners (CREATE) and Collaborative Strategic Reading. She earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Philip Capin

Philip Capin is a researcher for the Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text project and a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin, studying special education with a concentration in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. Capin is an experienced special education teacher and certified school administrator. Previously, he served as a literacy consultant, providing professional development and technical assistance in the areas of reading interventions, data-driven decision-making, and response to intervention. His research interests include the assessment of reading comprehension and critical thinking, the effects of professional development on teacher effectiveness and student achievement, and empirically validated reading interventions for students of all ages.

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Morgan Engelmann

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Anna-Mari Fall

Dr. Anna-Mari Fall joined MCPER as a research associate in 2009, shortly after completing her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in special education and research methods from Virginia Tech. Prior to her doctoral studies, Fall received a master’s in special education from Virginia Tech. In addition, she was a special education teacher for 2 years in Hungary and Romania. During her doctoral studies, Fall’s research focused on issues related to educational equity, teacher quality, commitment, and retention. Her current research interests include school dropout, student engagement, interventions that enhance student engagement and decrease dropout, secondary data analysis, and multilevel modeling with latent variables. Currently, she is studying the effect of the school and family contexts on student engagement and dropout, using the Educational Longitudinal Study large-scale national database. Fall is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Dissertation Award from the Council of Exceptional Children Teacher Education Division and the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the School of Education at Virginia Tech.

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Gleb Furman

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Anita Harbor

Anita Harbor is a research support expert for the PACT project. In this role, Harbor coaches classroom teachers, develops lesson materials, and provides professional development. She also serves as an interventionist and lesson developer for the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities. She has been a reading interventionist for elementary and secondary students, a tutor coordinator, and a project coordinator on various research teams at VGC and MCPER. She earned her bachelor of science degree in business from San Jose State University in California and her master of science degree in educational technology from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She has more than 20 years of experience working with at-risk populations in the nonprofit and education fields. Her research interests include the prevention of reading difficulties through the systematic implementation of effective instructional strategies.

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Nancy Lewis

Dr. Nancy Scammacca Lewis is a research methods expert who has worked on projects involving quantitative and qualitative research design and data analysis, meta-analysis, program evaluation, survey construction, and survey data analysis. Her expertise includes advanced statistical techniques such as hierarchical linear modeling, structural equation modeling, and regression-discontinuity analysis. She has a Ph.D. in educational psychology and an M.A. in program evaluation from The University of Texas at Austin, an M.A. in clinical psychology from Wheaton College, and a B.A. in psychology from Northwestern University.

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Maria Longhi

Maria Longhi is the project coordinator of the Scientific Explorers (Sci2) project. She has served as associate director of the Texas Literacy Initiative and program director of the Literacy Achievement and Reading to Learn Academies. She has provided high quality professional development and technical assistance at the state, district, and campus levels in the areas of leadership, assessment, evidence-based literacy practices, and response to intervention. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, she has worked closely with directors, administrators, literacy coaches, and teachers to build capacity and implement sustainable literacy practices. She holds an M.Ed. in elementary reading and a B.B.A. in mangement.  Prior to her work at MCPER and VGC, she served for 15 years as a bilingual teacher and district literacy coach. Her interests include implementation science, teacher effectiveness, and second-language aquisition.

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Christy Murray

Christy Murray is principal investigator and project director for the Middle School Matters Institute, as well as project director of the Scale-Up PACT project. Previously, Murray served as co-principal investigator of the English Learner Institute for Teaching and Excellence (Project ELITE) and as deputy director of the Center on Instruction’s special education and response to intervention work. During her 7 years with Center on Instruction, she provided technical assistance to regional comprehensive centers and state departments of education, as well as developed products, publications, and professional development materials. She also has served as data coordinator on a longitudinal research study that examined the implementation of the 3-tier model in K–3 reading. Murray earned her master of arts degree in educational psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2004. Her research interests include response to intervention and effective reading instruction and intervention for struggling students. Prior to joining MCPER in 2002, she worked as an elementary school teacher, where she instructed students in both general and special education.

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Danielle SoRelle

Dr. Danielle SoRelle completed her doctorate in human development and family studies through Texas Tech University in May 2012. SoRelle earned a master’s degree in public health through The University of Texas School of Public Health in 2005. She has worked on a variety of research- and intervention-based studies for the last 13 years. On many of these projects, she has served as the primary project coordinator and has been involved in the research from inception to dissemination.

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Elizabeth Stevens

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Stephanie J. Stillman

Dr. Stephanie J. Stillman serves as the director of assessment for MCPER. Stillman works closely with school districts and teachers in Austin and the surrounding area to coordinate research related to student testing and teacher observations for several MCPER projects, including CREATE, Collaborative Strategic Reading, and a focused UT Elementary School study. She earned her undergraduate degree in sociology and philosophy from Colgate University and her master’s degree in religion and philosophy from Harvard University. She earned her doctorate in religious studies with a focus on ethics and children from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a former Teach for America High School Special Education teacher, and she has also taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara and California Polytechnic University. She is the author of the forthcoming book Remembering the Cruelest Month: The Politics of Memory in the Aftermath of the Shootings at Columbine.

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Myriam Lopez Wallace

Dr. Myriam Lopez earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology, specializing in quantitative methods. Lopez's research over the last 4 years has explored quantitative methods as they are applied in social science and educational research. Specifically, her research has investigated methodological dilemmas found in structural equation modeling and cross-classified random effects modeling. Currently, she works on the National Center for Systemic Improvement and National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes external evaluations.