LEARN’s member institutions conduct ongoing, rigorous research that helps guide major advances in teaching, learning, and behavior at all levels, ranging from the impact of new technology to better interventions for students with learning disabilities. Here, you can read about some of the exciting, innovative research taking place at several of LEARN’s member institutions, and the impact it is having on education policy and practice across the country.

Boston University

Massachusetts Institute for College and Career Readiness

With grant funding from the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the Massachusetts Institute for College and Career Readiness (MICCR), based at Boston University, is supporting a team of researchers studying how students in some of Massachusetts’ lowest-performing school districts – cities like Holyoke, Worcester, and Springfield – can be better prepared for college and career success. “Taking a team approach, the researchers will use the three-year grant to look at early warning indicators among middle school and high school students and to collaborate on possible interventions,” according to an article in BU Today. “In order to create the workforce we need to have a successful economy, we must increase access to college for a historically disenfranchised group,” said Hardin Coleman, Dean of the Boston University School of Education. More information about the MICCR can be found here.

Texas A&M

Gathering Evidence of English Language and Literacy Acquisition among English Language Learners

With grant funding from the Investing in Innovation (i3) fund, researchers at Texas A&M are evaluating the impact of ELLA, a program designed to close achievement gaps by improving the quality of early-learning programs for high-need English language learners (ELLs) in grades K-3. Using state-of-the-art technology to support and evaluate student progress, the research will provide important evidence about the impact of the ELLA program on English language learners.

Assessing the Adequacy of Measures Designed to Identify Kindergarten Students At-Risk for Reading Disabilities

Increasingly, schools are using standard measurements to monitor children’s reading development and identify students at risk for a reading disability. With funding from IES, researchers at Texas A&M are assessing the current measures, with the goal of identifying the most reliable and valid measures and measurement practices for monitoring the reading progress of kindergarten students.

Improving Comprehension Vocabulary Skills among At-Risk 3rd Graders

With funding from IES, researchers at Texas A&M are developing a system called the Integrated Vocabulary of Comprehension System (IVCS). The new system will leverage the power of educational technology to help at-risk 3rd graders learn and apply “the vocabulary of comprehension,” words and phrases like “sources of evidence,” “main idea,” “inference,” and “characters,” which are critical to understanding and contextualizing other vocabulary students will encounter.

Texas A&M University Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Since 2006 the College of Education & Human Development has been awarded funding for a Center on Disability and Development (CDD) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Children & Families. The CDD’s primary emphasis areas are (a) education and early intervention and (b) community quality of life. The CDD’s numerous research, training, and outreach efforts are organized into four overarching core functions:  (a) interdisciplinary pre-service training; (b) community services, training, and technical assistance; (c) research; and (d) information dissemination.

Interdisciplinary pre-service training efforts include partnerships to offer advanced special education training to graduate students and the provision of postsecondary education training to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Community service and technical assistance activities include support for high school completion and pursuit of postsecondary education opportunities, targeted supports for individuals with behavioral challenges, assistance with person-centered planning, accommodations and adaptations in farming, and positive behavioral supports within rural healthcare services. Examples of CDD research emphasis areas include (a) effective practices for teaching literacy skills to at-risk children and adolescents and (b) improving academic, socio-behavioral, and postsecondary outcomes for students with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities.  Dissemination goals include an array of strategies for disseminating CDD work broadly, along with targeted activities to educate and inform to state legislators and members of Congress.

Vanderbilt University

The National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools

The National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools (NCSU)—a collaborative partnership among research universities, education support providers, and two larger urban districts— is a five-year, $13.6 million grant from IES. As a national research and development center on scaling up effective schools, NCSU focuses on identifying the combination of essential components and the programs, practices, processes, and policies that make some high schools in large urban districts particularly effective with low-income students, minority students, and English language learners. Then the center works with both teachers and school and district leaders to develop processes to share these practices with less-effective schools in the district.

Accelerated Academic Achievement (A3) Research Center

The National Center for Special Education Research (which is a part of the IES) awarded a team of Vanderbilt University professors $10 million to develop new math and reading strategies aimed at improving student success. The five-year grant, which was awarded in 2013, will establish an Accelerated Academic Achievement (A3) Research Center. This center will enable researchers to study instructional programs targeting students with the most severe learning disabilities in grades three to five. Studies will include children with learning disabilities and other children without a disability determination who experience persistent, severe difficulties in reading or mathematics.

Ohio State University

Establishing the Language and Reading Research Consortium

With funding from the IES Reading for Understanding initiative, researchers at Ohio State University established the Language and Reading Research Consortium (LARRC), a $20 million five-year longitudinal research project conducted in four states (including Ohio). With more than one-fourth of American school-age children struggling to comprehend what they read, LARRC research is designed to fundamentally change what we know about reading comprehension, including the causes of comprehension failure, and to identify effective tools for improving reading comprehension. LARRC has developed and field-tested Let’s Know!, a program designed to improve children’s reading comprehension.  Initial study results show that Let’s Know!  has significant effects on comprehension and related skills (e.g., vocabulary, listening comprehension). The greatest impact of LARRC will be providing educators empirically supported tools to improve their students’ reading comprehension.

Reading Recovery: Scaling Up What Works

Ohio State received an Investing in Innovation (i3) $56 million, five-year IES grant to extend Reading Recovery’s research-based, short-term intervention to 88,000 of the lowest-achieving first graders nationwide. The Reading Recovery program has been shown to be the most effective intervention for these students (in What Works Clearinghouse), as evidenced by the largest effect sizes. Thus far, through this project, over 3750 teachers have been trained in more than 40 states, including 300 teachers in Ohio in 200 schools (including consistently underperforming schools in Cleveland). This grant has helped Reading Recovery reach more underperforming schools, schools in disadvantaged areas, schools with large ELL populations, and schools in underprivileged rural communities.

Project m-NET (Mobilizing National Educator Talent)

This project is an $11 million grant from the US Department of Education for Ohio State to lead a consortium of higher education institutions, high-need education agencies, and non-profit agencies across 13 states including Ohio, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.  The goal of the grant is to develop fully state certified teachers through alternative mechanisms in high need, hard to staff school districts. From 2011-2016, 1111 teachers of record will be trained in order to address specific teaching shortages. Many of these teachers are in STEM education and come from underrepresented groups (minorities, individuals with disabilities, and women). This grant follows up on two other similar successful grants.


Iowa State

Algebra Screening and Progress Monitoring for Students with Learning Disabilities

The Iowa State School of Education received $1,510,000 from the National Center for Special Education Research to expand previous research on algebra progress monitoring. Researchers have created a  demonstration project to be implemented in three states (Mississippi, Missouri, and Iowa) with the goal of developing and refining six types of algebra progress monitoring measures. By collecting data on students and engaging in professional development for teachers over a four year time period, the hope is that students with learning disabilities will be able to improve their algebra skills with these new methods of screening and monitoring.

TEC-STEM Partnerships: Teachers and Engineers Collaborate for STEM Learning in K-5

Funded by a five-year grant from the NSF, Iowa State University has partnered with teachers in Seattle to develop the Next Generation Science Standard’s vision, which will allow groups of teachers to work collaboratively to create innovative ways to teach STEM in the Seattle schools, and eventually around the country.