Overview

The Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (TCLD) conducts research that leads to a more comprehensive understanding of the following:

  • Reliable and valid classifications of learning disabilities, with direct implications for identification of students with significant reading disabilities, including models that incorporate response to intervention (RTI)
  • The role of executive functions in reading comprehension and other academic skills
  • Effective interventions and RTI for students at risk for or experiencing serious reading difficulties
  • The neural correlates of reading disabilities in children

Currently, this research takes the form of four projects to be conducted over the next five years.

More information can be found at the TCLD external website.

Outcomes

​Research is ongoing.

Findings (Publications and Presentations)

Project Design

Purpose

Our intention is to improve scientific knowledge and clinical practice regarding effective instruction for remediating reading comprehension difficulties for students in the middle grades (grades 4 and 5) and to link with previous studies that begin in grade 6. It is not clear why reading interventions are less efficacious in secondary environments, and the lack of attention to grades 4–5 is a major gap in knowledge and practice. Through clinical trials designed to scientifically determine the efficacy of conceptually designed treatments capitalizing on recent research on reading comprehension, language, and self-regulation, we hope to increase the overall impact of intervention on reading comprehension outcomes for students.

Aims

  1. Determine the efficacy of reading comprehension interventions by comparing outcomes of fourth-graders with reading difficulties. We will randomly assign students to one of three conditions: (a) typical classroom reading instruction, (b) a yearlong replacement intervention, or (c) the same replacement intervention for 2 years. We will then follow and assess students for 1 additional year (through sixth grade).

  2. Conduct a second randomized controlled trial with a nonoverlapping sample of fourth-graders with reading difficulties with the same design as Study 1, in which the intervention focuses on executive functions as well as reading comprehension. Like Study 1, we will follow and assess these students through grade 6.

  3. Determine student characteristics and contextual factors associated with response to intervention as a means of informing treatment decisions and to determine the extent to which student characteristics (e.g., memory, motivation) and contextual factors (e.g., teacher knowledge, school effectiveness ratings, neighborhood access to literacy) can predict response to intervention initially and longitudinally.

Hypotheses

The following hypotheses relate to aims 1 and 2:

  • Students who received 1 year of intervention will outperform those who received typical reading instruction across reading-related elements—including word reading, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, writing, comprehension, self-regulation, attribution, and motivation to read—at the end of year 1 (fourth grade).

  • Students who received 2 years of intervention will outperform those who received 1 year of intervention and those who received typical reading instruction across reading-related elements—including word reading, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, writing, comprehension, self-regulation, attribution, and motivation to read—at the end of year 2 (fifth grade).  

  • Students who received 1 year of intervention will outperform comparison students (those who received typical instruction) through sixth grade.

  • Students who received 2 years of intervention will outperform those who received 1 year of intervention and comparison students through sixth grade.

The following hypotheses relate to aim 3:

  • Several student and setting characteristics will influence the effectiveness of the interventions.

  • We will identify predictors of student response to intervention by using an array of school, teacher, and student characteristics assessed prior to intervention and investigated throughout the 2 years of treatment and 1 year of follow-up.

Participants

Children ages 8 to 12 who receive English-language instruction in public school.

Logo for Texas Center for Learning Disabilities

Contact Information

Philip Capin
Project Coordinator
pcapin@utexas.edu

Non-MCPER Principal Investigators

  • Jack Fletcher

Additional Investigators

  • Sharon Vaughn
  • Greg Roberts

Non-MCPER Additional Investigators

  • David Francis
  • Karla Stuebing
  • Paul Cirino
  • Andrew Papanicolaou
  • Amy Barth

Funding Agency

Timeline

  • February 1, 2012, to August 31, 2017

Sites

  • Houston and Austin metropolitan areas

Website

​Texas Center for Learning Disabilities external website