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News from April 2016

Central Texas School District Mathematics Forum targets district issues in mathematics instruction
April 25, 2016

MCPER's Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties held a Central Texas School District Mathematics Forum luncheon on April 22. The purpose of the forum was to identify and problem-solve issues that districts encounter in mathematics instruction. Administrators and curriculum directors and specialists attended the forum. Barbara Dougherty, a research professor at the University of Missouri and Mathematics Institute fellow, was featured as the luncheon speaker. The Math Institute looks forward to more collaborative partnerships with school districts.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

News from March 2016

Second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide is now available
March 29, 2016

A completely revamped second edition of the Middle School Matters Field Guide, the only such compilation of research focused on the middle grades, has been published and is now available online.

The field guide is a collection of research-based principles, practices, and strategies deemed essential for middle school success. Experts from across the country contributed to the field guide, which contains examples and illustrations for each recommended practice to help educators understand and then implement these practices in their classrooms and schools.

The Middle School Matters Institute, in partnership with the George W. Bush Institute, led the development of the second edition. 

To download the entire field guide or individual sections, visit the MCPER Library. For more information, read the Bush Institute press release.

Tags: Middle School Matters Institute 

MCPER’s Sarah Powell recognized for journal’s best practice article of year
March 1, 2016

Sarah Powell, a principal investigator in MCPER's Mathematics Institute, has won the Samuel A. Kirk Award for the best practice article of 2015 in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice.

Powell co-authored "Intensive Intervention in Mathematics" with Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University. For a description and full citation of the article, visit the MCPER Library. For more information or to obtain the article, visit the journal's website.

Powell joins Eunsoo Cho and colleagues, who won the Kirk Award for the research category.

Tags: Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties 

News from February 2016

Eunsoo Cho, MCPER colleagues win Samuel A. Kirk Award for journal’s best research article of 2015
February 25, 2016

Eunsoo Cho, a postdoctoral fellow in MCPER's Reading Institute, has been honored as the lead author of a prestigious journal's best research article of 2015.

"Cognitive Attributes, Attention, and Self-Efficacy of Adequate and Inadequate Responders in a Fourth-Grade Reading Intervention" won the Samuel A. Kirk Award for 2015, which recognizes the best research article in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. Cho's co-authors included MCPER researchers Garrett Roberts and Philip Capin, Associate Director Greg Roberts, Executive Director Sharon Vaughn, and Jeremy Miciak of the University of Houston.

For a description and full citation of the article, visit the MCPER Library. For more information or to obtain the article, visit the journal's website.

MCPER's Sarah Powell won the Kirk Award in the practice category.

Tags: Reading Institute  Texas Center for Learning Disabilities 

MCPER alum Christopher Lemons wins Presidential Early Career Award
February 19, 2016

Christopher Lemons, a former MCPER staff researcher and current MCPER collaborator, has received the U.S. government’s highest honor for science and engineering researchers in the early stages of their careers.

President Obama selected Lemons among 105 recipients nationwide of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. President Clinton established the award in 1996 to recognize “innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and ... commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach,” according to a White House press release.

Lemons, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, is a principal investigator of the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention, a consortium that prepares special education leaders to become experts in research on intensive intervention for students with disabilities who have persistent and severe academic and/or behavioral difficulties. MCPER faculty members and scholars are part of the consortium through The University of Texas Austin, one of seven partner institutions. Lemons previously worked on multiple MCPER projects.

For more information on the prestigious award, see the White House press release.

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

New resource highlights top 10 research-based policies and practices for all schools
February 17, 2016

Leading experts from The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) have condensed the knowledge from a broad range of research into 10 key practical ideas that states and school districts can use to create policy and improve student outcomes.

"10 Key Policies and Practices for All Schools With Strong Evidence of Effectiveness From High-Quality Research" is a concise one-page document that offers recommendations stated in clear language that are grounded in findings from solid research studies. Topics include multitiered instructional systems; data management; intensive intervention; daily instruction and practice in reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary, and mathematics; assessment; and college and career readiness. The document is the first installment of MCPER's new "10 Key" series, which will create similar lists of practical, research-based recommendations for specific topics of interest to educators.

Download "10 Key Policies and Practices" today from the MCPER Library.

TLI partnership with Nixon-Smiley yields tremendous growth in prekindergarten
February 1, 2016

Through hard work and an ongoing partnership with the Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI), the prekindergarten program at Nixon-Smiley Elementary School has posted dramatic gains in literacy.

  A comparison of the numbers from the beginning of the 2014–2015 school year to the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year speaks for itself—on the CLI Engage assessment, the percentage of prekindergarten students deemed as making “acceptable progress” improved in several areas:

  • From 27% in 2014 to 53% in 2015 in letter knowledge
  • From 1% to 40% in vocabulary
  • From 47% in to 73% in phonological awareness

  “It has been a journey,” said Shea Sultemeier, the prekindergarten instructional coach for the rural district 50 miles southeast of San Antonio. “Since the inception of TLI, several steps clearly impacted the positive growth of our prekindergarten students.”

  Sultemeier went on to detail initiatives during the 4-year partnership, highlighting the work of Family Literacy Liaisons Thelma Deleon and Vanesa Deleon, a new position funded through TLI. Thelma Deleon was the school’s first liaison, and Vanesa Deleon joined her in the 2015–2016 school year. The family literacy liaisons visit homes and build literacy by reading with very young children before they are old enough for school, encouraging environmental print, informing parents about the importance of talking to babies and toddlers, and using technology to support English language development. As word has spread, more parents have contacted the liaisons for their input and support. Early in the process, Thelma Deleon formed a parent group that remains in place today. And this school year, Vanesa Deleon facilitated the Read and Rise parent course, which will result in a group of parent leaders to carry on building literacy in the home.

  “The success of our 3- and 4-year-old programs is directly related to having family liaisons who build literacy in the home and involve the entire family in the process,” Sultemeier said. “The data show that the strong literacy foundation for families that is established in our district creates students who are more developmentally prepared to enter the elementary grades.”

  Back in the school, the work has evolved over the 4 years of the partnership with TLI—work that continues today. In the first year, the 3- and 4-year-old programs determined what scientifically based curriculum to use, prekindergarten teachers collaborated with elementary teachers to build classroom management systems and procedures for vertical consistency, and an early childhood specialist observed and coached teachers to establish processes and goals. In subsequent years, Nixon-Smiley created a schedule for benchmarking and data analysis at the beginning, middle, and end of the year; continued to work with the early childhood specialist; established explicit lesson plan expectations based on prekindergarten guidelines; integrated writing into all centers; and partnered with the Ready Rosie early childhood engagement online program.

  “The amazing thing to see is that when resources are introduced into [this] community, the payback happens,” Sultemeier said. “Investing in the young before school is crucial to the development of students’ and parents’ literacy. The evidence has been the impact the program has had on the language development of our prekindergarten students. The data show that the people and systems that have been put into place over the course of the TLI [partnership] have increased the success of our early childhood program.”

  TLI, part of the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, works across the state to ensure that every child is prepared for the literacy demands of college and a career by high school graduation. For more information, visit the TLI project webpage.

Tags: Vaughn Gross Center  Texas Literacy Initiative 

News from December 2015

Sharon Vaughn’s presentation to mark 40th anniversary of IDEA now available online
December 17, 2015

An archived video of the November symposium in Washington, D.C., marking the 40th anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—including a presentation on intensive interventions by MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn—is now available online. To view the presentations, visit the U.S. Department of Education's Edstream Video Library.

News from November 2015

Survey targets educators’ perspectives on instructional support and professional development needs
November 17, 2015

The Texas Education Agency and The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk are conducting a survey to learn more about teachers’ perspectives on the literacy development of all learners and preferences for professional development. The information gathered will guide the development of training modules and classroom resources designed to assist teachers in the transition from state assessments based on modified standards to the general state assessment, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®). More information on this initiative is available on the Targeting the 2 Percent project webpage.

Educators who work with students in grades kindergarten to grade 5 are encouraged to complete the short survey.

To ensure that we hear from as many stakeholders as possible, we also ask that you forward this message to other possible participants.

Tags: Reading Institute  Targeting the 2 Percent 

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn to speak at celebration of 40th anniversary of IDEA
November 5, 2015

MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn will join a panel of national experts presenting at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in Washington, D.C. 

Vaughn will present on literacy during a symposium from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on November 17 at the U.S. Department of Education's Barnard Auditorium. She will join a panel including Sue Swenson (family engagement), Lynn Fuchs (mathematics), Rob Horner (school climate/social and behavior), Lise Fox (early childhood), Michael Wehmeyer (inclusion), Lisa Dieker (teacher training), and David Test (secondary/transition). According to the U.S. Department of Education, during this event, "distinguished researchers [will] share the state of evidence in special education and look [toward] the future for promoting even greater educational achievement by students with disabilities."

To watch the event, visit the department's live stream. The event also will be archived for later viewing on the department's Edstream Video Library.

Earlier that day, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., an event will be held at the White House, in which officials and youth affected by IDEA will speak. To view that event, visit the White House Live site.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, "When IDEA was enacted in 1975, America pledged to provide and ensure that children with disabilities have opportunities to develop their talents and contribute to their communities. That pledge endures today and IDEA continues to provide not only access to the school house, to assessment, and to the general curriculum, but the full promise of inclusion, equity, and opportunity."