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New funding extends National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention for another 5 years
November 6, 2019

A $6.4 million, 5-year grant will support the training of a new cohort of 28 doctoral students as part of the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLII).

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and Principal Investigator Sarah Powell will serve on the Leadership Committee as representatives of The University of Texas at Austin, one of seven partner universities. The other universities taking part are Vanderbilt University, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Minnesota, University of Georgia, and Michigan State University.

The goal of the project is to "produce a cohort of scholars capable of preparing generations of special education personnel to meet the needs of students with comorbid and complex learning and behavior difficulties and to conduct the highest level of research on this topic," according to an NCLII announcement. Also, the project will "host summer workshops to provide additional, focused training in key topics related to leadership development in intensive intervention. The consortium also provides interested scholars with connections to internships with national centers supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs."

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

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn appointed to statewide Reading Advisory Committee
October 18, 2019

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn has been selected to serve on the newly formed statewide Reading Advisory Committee. 

The committee is one of five established through Texas House Bills 3 and 3906. The other commitees are Special Education, Compensatory Education, Financial Aid, and Assessment. The experts on the Reading Committee will advise the Texas Education Agency on its plans to support reading education. 

In addition to Vaughn, Jack Fletcher—director of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, which is jointly based at MCPER and the University of Houston—was selected to serve on the committee. For more information and a list of the other committee members, read the Texas Education Agency announcement

Tags: Reading Institute  Texas Center for Learning Disabilities 

New project will target improvements in kindergartners’ math, music, and computational thinking
October 3, 2019

MCPER's Sarah Powell will join a team of partners to help lead a new project that will combine math, music, and computational thinking instruction for kindergarten students. 

Powell will serve as co-principal investigator on the project, titled Young Academic Music and Computational Thinking for Kindergarten. In Texas, the project will partner with rural school districts to pilot the program in kindergarten classrooms and to learn what works and what is challenging for teachers with little training in music and technology. The 5-year, $1.5 million grant is funded by the Office of Innovation and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education.

Sue Courey of the Touro College Graduate School of Education will lead the project. Partners include Daniel's Music Foundation, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, and WestEd.

Seats still available for second round of reading instruction workshops
September 27, 2019

MCPER and Humanities Texas are set to begin the second round of their popular workshops on best practices in reading instruction for fourth- through sixth-grade educators.

Each workshop will include three 1-day sessions; teachers are expected to attend all three sessions. The Austin workshop series will be held on October 23, December 4, and January 29 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. In San Antonio, the workshops will be held on October 24, December 5, and January 30 at Trinity University. The workshops will feature interactive sessions on word study and recognition, vocabulary, and reading comprehension with an emphasis on social studies texts. Each workshop will build on the previous session and align with the reading and comprehension Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Presenters will include MCPER Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Schnakenberg and longtime MCPER collaborators Diane Haager and Alejandra Rodriguez Mielke. 

Humanities Texas will provide funds to cover substitute teachers and the cost of travel, in accordance with Texas reimbursement rates. Participating teachers also will receive CPE credit and curricular materials.

For more information, including how to register, visit the Humanities Texas website

Christine Espin to be featured in College of Education’s EdTalks series
September 24, 2019

October's installment of the College of Education's EdTalks series will feature an assessment expert from the Netherlands.

Christine Espin of Leiden University will present "Use of Curriculum-Based Measurement Data for Educational Decision Making" from 10 to 11 a.m. on October 31 in Room 352 of the Sanchez Building. In the abstract for the presentation, Espin writes that she will explore "a data-based system designed to closely monitor the progress of students with learning difficulties: curriculum-based measurement (CBM). In the presentation, research focused on teachers’ ability to understand and interpret CBM progress monitoring data will be described, and potential factors contributing to teachers’ ability to understand and interpret the data will be discussed. In addition, methods for improving teachers’ ability to understand, interpret, and use CBM data for decision making will be discussed."

Espin is a professor of learning problems and specialized interventions in education. She has published more than 60 articles and 17 book chapters related to CBM and teachers’ use of student assessment data.

MCPER's Jessica Toste applied for and received funding from the UT Austin Academic Enrichment Fund to bring Espin to campus for the guest lecture.

Dr. Vaughn to give Norman Geschwind Memorial Lecture
September 24, 2019

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn is scheduled to give the Norman Geschwind Memorial Lecture at the annual International Dyslexia Association conference in November.

The conference will take place November 7–10 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Dr. Vaughn’s lecture, titled “Teaching Literacy Effectively is Life Changing,” is scheduled for Saturday at 8 a.m.

In her lecture, Dr. Vaughn will identify essential features of instruction and go over ways to integrate those features into interventions and general education instruction.

The conference is open for registration.

Learn more about the program.

Dyslexia Foundation conference set for October 18 at Harvard Medical School
September 23, 2019

The Dyslexia Foundation is playing host to a conference this fall that will investigate spelling and orthography's role in reading.

“Understanding Spelling, Orthography, and Their Links to Reading” will be held on October 18 at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, including how to register, an agenda, and list of featured speakers, visit The Dyslexia Foundation's website.

MCPER’s Nancy Scammacca Lewis to serve as principal member of federal grant review panel
August 30, 2019

Nancy Scammacca Lewis, a researcher with multiple projects in MCPER's Reading Institute, has accepted an invitation to serve as a principal member on a federal grant review panel.

Lewis will serve on the Special Education Research panel of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which meets once a year in the Washington, DC, area. 

"IES invites individuals to become principal members on the basis of their professional contributions to education sciences and related fields, as well as their outstanding prior service on IES research grant peer review panels," according to the IES invitation. "Principal members play an important role in the research grant peer review process by providing continuity of scholarly expertise and familiarity with the peer review process across years."

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.

MCPER launches initiative to improve academic, behavioral interventions for Texas students
July 30, 2019

MCPER has received a $2 million, 1-year grant from the Texas Education Agency to develop and disseminate information about best practices related to academic and behavioral interventions.

Tiered Interventions Using Evidence-Based Research (TIER) will develop a set of modules related to multitiered systems of support in academics and behavior to improve the outcomes of students with or at risk for disability. The project also will create on-demand versions of each module so educators across Texas can access the materials independently at their convenience.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Texas Education Agency and educators across Texas to ensure that all schools have support systems in place to improve the outcomes of students with disabilities," said Sarah Powell, TIER principal investigator. "We are embarking on an ambitious project with materials that could be utilized by every educator in Texas."

For more information, visit the TIER project webpage.

Tags: Response to Intervention Institute  Tiered Interventions Using Evidence-Based Research (TIER) 

New project examines reading intervention efficacy for students with disabilities
July 9, 2019

MCPER researchers have been awarded a 5-year, $3.3 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to examine the efficacy of a reading intervention for students with disabilities.

The project, Promoting Comprehension and Content Acquisition for Students With Disabilities, targets middle school students with learning disabilities in a study of the previously developed PACT intervention. Approximately 16,000 students, including an estimated 1,280 students with disabilities, will participate in the study implemented by social studies teachers at 32 urban and suburban middle schools in Texas and Tennessee.

PACT was developed and tested for efficacy with middle school students in social studies classrooms as part of a previously funded Institute of Education Sciences project. Data from that study suggest the intervention is promising for learners with disabilities, but it has yet to be rigorously tested with this group of students.

"We are grateful and excited for this opportunity to build on our previous PACT research," said Leticia Martinez, co-principal investigator of the project and director of MCPER's Language for Learning Institute. "There is a need to identify evidence-based practices to assist teachers in improving outcomes for our students with disabilities, considering how many of these students receive instruction in the general education classroom, and we intend for our findings to contribute to this knowledge base."

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn is the principal investigator of the project. In addition to Martinez, MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts and Jeanne Wanzek of Vanderbilt University are co-principal investigators.

Tags: Reading Institute