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News from August 2017

MCPER’s Brandy Maynard, Veronica Miller receive Leonard E. Gibbs Award for review on mindfulness
August 16, 2017

MCPER's Brandy Maynard, a fellow in Dropout Prevention Institute, and Veronica Miller, a researcher with the Middle School Matters Institute, received the Leonard E. Gibbs Award for a recent review on mindfulness along with coauthors Michael R. Solis and Kristen E. Brendel.

In the review, Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Improving Cognition, Academic Achievement, Behavior and Socioemotional Functioning of Primary and Secondary Students, the authors found that mindfulness-based interventions have a statistically significant positive effect on cognitive and socioemotional processes for students, but that they do not improve behavior or academic performance.  

Read more about it on the Campbell Collaboration website.

Tags: Dropout Prevention Institute Middle School Matters Institute 

MCPER receives $1.2 million grant to prepare doctorates for leadership in special education
August 14, 2017

Dr. Diane Pedrotty Bryant at MCPER has received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for doctoral leadership preparation in intensive interventions for students with learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders.

The aim of this 5-year grant is to recruit and prepare a cohort of highly qualified doctoral graduates for leadership positions in special education.

The focus of the grant is on intensive interventions as a critical dimension of doctoral preparation. A research-to-practice leadership model will be employed to provide in-depth analysis of intensive interventions, particularly as they pertain to academic and behavioral interventions.

Doctoral leaders will be prepared to (a) participate on research teams to contribute to the growing database on intensive interventions, (b) understand and implement intensive interventions for individuals with disabilities, (c) understand and implement a data-based individualization process to customize intensive interventions to maximize student growth, (d) understand the cultural and linguistic issues related to using intensive interventions with culturally and linguistically diverse students, and (e) understand and contribute to policy issues related to intensive interventions.

Doctoral leaders and scholars will assume positions in institutions of higher education, professional development, state education agencies, and local education agencies to serve as catalysts to effect change.

Bryant will serve a principal investigator of the program with MCPER's Sharon Vaughn and Nathan Clemens as co-principal investigators. The program will begin on January 1, 2018.

For more information, see the Doctoral Leadership: Multitiered Systems of Support website.

MSMI publishes article with guidance for educators on developing effective, long-term innovations
August 11, 2017

In a new article, Middle School Matters Institute Principal Investigator Christy Murray, Assistant Director David Barrett, and School Support Coach Veronica Miller provide guidance for middle school educators seeking innovative solutions to systemic problems.

"Planting the Seeds of Innovation: Four Steps to Build Capacity for Long-Term Innovation" appears in the August issue of AMLE Magazine, published by the Association for Middle Level Education. In the article, the authors convey the importance of grounding innovations in solid research, thus providing a strong foundation and increasing the confidence for an effective impact on student outcomes. Additionally, the authors emphasize the need for long-term planning and strategic implementation.

The article also points readers to MSM’s field guide, a collection of research-based principles and practices deemed essential for middle school success.

For more information on MSMI’s work, visit the Middle School Matters website.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

MCPER to create science program with focus on second-graders with, at risk for learning disabilities
August 7, 2017

MCPER has been awarded a $2.5 million, 4-year federal grant to launch the Scientific Explorers project, which will design and test a science program for the full range of second-grade learners, including those with or at risk for learning disabilities in mathematics, reading, and science.

The goal of the Scientific Explorers program, funded by the National Science Foundation Discovery Research PreK–12 program, is to lay an early foundation for science learning, drawing upon the disciplinary core ideas and cross-cutting concepts related to Earth’s Systems in the Next Generation Science Standards. The project also will develop and test an accompanying science assessment. In year 4, the project will conduct a pilot study of the program and assessment in 40 second-grade classrooms in Texas and Virginia. 

MCPER's Christian Doabler is the project's principal investigator. Sarah Powell of MCPER, Victor Sampson of the UT Austin College of Education, and Bill Therrien of the University of Virginia are the co-principal investigators. MCPER's Greg Roberts and Anna-Mari Fall are the project’s methodologists.

"A robust understanding of disciplinary core ideas and practices in science is necessary for obtaining jobs in the STEM fields," Doabler said. "Yet, few effective instructional tools exist for the science classroom."

For more information, visit the Scientific Explorers project webpage.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties  Promoting Scientific Explorers Among Students With Learning Disabilities 

New project to develop read-aloud tools to improve literacy and math skills of children ages 3 to 6
August 3, 2017

MCPER researchers Sarah Powell and Sharon Vaughn have received a $1 million grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to develop and use math and reading read-alouds with young children.

The 5-year project, Interactive Read-Alouds for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Skills, will aim to improve the read-aloud practices of caregivers and teachers of children ages 3 to 6. A read-aloud is when an adult reads aloud to a child and engages the child in discussion and exploration as the reading occurs.

“Many parents and teachers read story books aloud to young children, but books about early math concepts are used infrequently,” Powell said. “With this project, we aim to improve typical routines with read-alouds so that teachers and parents not only focus on reading but also discuss math vocabulary and math content with young children.”

One aim of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, based in Lufkin, Texas, is to address low rates of educational attainment in East Texas. With this grant, the researchers will work with caregivers and teachers in East Texas to increase home and school literacy and numeracy discussions and activities.

The project will design a set of research-based practices that will be useful and effective for caregivers and teachers throughout Texas, ensuring that youngsters will be more prepared for kindergarten and beyond. 

“We are so proud to be working with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to better outcomes in early literacy and numeracy,” Vaughn said. “We consider it a huge honor to have received this grant and are very grateful for their support.”

For more information, visit the project webpage.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties  Interactive Read-Alouds for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Skills