Research

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 College

Addressing Students’ Comprehensive needs and Driving Student Learning Outcomes

Using school admissions lotteries to measure effects of an integrated student support model on students’ academic achievement is an IES-funded study that evaluates whether participating in City Connects during elementary and middle school as a result of a random lottery improves academic performance on a state-administered standardized assessment. The intervention studied, City Connects, is an evidence-based approach that creates an individualized support plan for every student in a school. This plan is created by a Masters-level school counselor or social worker and is meant to address each student’s needs and strengths across four developmental domains: academics, social/emotional, mental health, and physical wellbeing. The school choice lottery process involved in this study is a centralized admissions process  that signs all entering kindergarten students to schools within a large urban school district using a school assignment process, randomly generated lottery numbers are used to determine school placement when students applying to the same school are tied in ranking. By capitalizing on the randomization within this school assignment process, the study was able to identify groups of students who faced the same probability of assignments to City Connects yet were assigned to different treatment conditions. Researchers were able to approximate a randomized control trial and therefore isolate the causal impact of the City Connects intervention. The study found that City Connects students significantly outperformed their non-city Connects peers in both mathematics and English language arts achievement on a state-administered standardized assessment. IES-supported studies like this one can catalyze stakeholders in action by generation actionable, high-quality evidence about how to effectively address students’ comprehensive needs and drive student learning outcomes.

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.

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.

Lehigh University

Addressing the Significant Academic Achievement Problems of Teenagers with ADHD

Bridges to Education Success for Teens (BEST) Project addresses the significant academic achievement problems of teenagers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are at high risk for dropping out of school. Multi-component training interventions such as the Challenging Horizons Program (CHP) improve organization skills and academic functioning of middle school students with ADHD, but few have investigated the treatment for high school students. Through this research, CHP appears efficacious for ameliorating organization skills and homework performance deficits exhibited by high school students with ADHD and can protect against decline in report card grades experience by these students. CHP may require supplementation with academic skills instruction for some students and may need implementation beyond one school year to produce durable effects.

North Carolina State University

Artificial Intelligence Academy: North Carolina Apprenticeships for Innovation

Supported by a four-year, $6 million grant from the Department of Labor, the four-course, 40-week workforce development AI Academy program will upscale 5,000 individuals — with a focus on veterans and underrepresented and underemployed workers — to enter the artificial intelligence pipeline through on-the-job training and mentoring within an employee’s existing workplace. Several national and international companies, including The Walt Disney Company, Lexmark and Booz Allen Hamilton, have already partnered with the AI Academy to train their employees in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Developing and Refining Parent Training to Improve Outcomes for African American Children with Autism

A four-year, $699,244 U.S. Department of Education IES Research Training Programs in Special Education Early Career Grant will help Black families, who often face disparities when it comes to autism diagnoses, be better equipped to access and advocate for autism services. The project will refine and test the promise of the existing Fostering Advocacy, Communication, Empowerment and Support (FACES) parent-training intervention — which has been proven to strengthen parent perceptions of empowerment and knowledge about autism and advocacy capacity — when delivered by community-based parent educators.

Supporting Reading Comprehension for English Learners Through Inquiry-Based, Language Focused Instruction

A four-year, $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences will be used to develop a new small-group intervention for English learners in grades 3 through 5 who have reading comprehension difficulties. Using the Building Knowledge and Language through Inquiry framework, the project will connect texts used in reading interventions to content that appears elsewhere in the curriculum to help students strengthen language and literacy skills while building knowledge in interesting topics through discussion of content rich, nonfiction books.

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.

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.

University of Maryland

Improving Content Area Literacy Instruction in Middle Schools

The Improving Content Area Literacy Instruction in Middle Schools (Project CALI) develops and tests a middle school co-teaching and literacy professional development model that is designed to improve collaboration between general (content-area) and special education teachers and, ultimately, enhance reading achievement and content-area knowledge of students with disabilities. Specifically, Project CALI supports teachers’ use of evidence-based strategies that promote adolescent literacy by building students’ backgrounders knowledge, delivering explicit vocabulary and comprehension instruction, and providing students with differentiated support. This research was conducted in urban and suburban middle schools in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and Connecticut. The project was also recently awarded an OSEP grant so is now in implementation asa. model program in suburban Maryland.

University of Texas at Austin

Examining the Efficacy and Effectiveness of Instructional Practices Associated with Improved Content Learning in History and Text Comprehension

Researchers at the Meadows Center for Prevention Educational Risk have been funded by IES to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of a set of instructional practices associated with improved content learning in history as well as text comprehension – Promoting Adolescent Comprehension of Text (PACT). Through The Reading For Understanding grant mechanism at IES, this team of researchers developed and tested the efficacy of these practices with middle school students in three separate randomized controlled trials and through a scale-up effectiveness grant. Across multiple school sites and districts form more than 5 states, teachers and their students participated in professional development providing support and coaching on implementing PACT practices. Results consistently demonstrated statistically significant gains fora. range of students learners including students with reading difficulties and English learners for outcomes related to content acquisition and text reading.

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

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education and Human Development were awarded a $10 million grant in 2013 to develop and test the efficacy of intervention programs to improve the academic achievement of children with serious and persistent learning disabilities in grades three to five. The IES grant has been extended through 2021. This initiative enables Peabody researchers to develop and rigorously evaluate intensive reading and mathematics intervention programs. These programs aim to improve reading comprehension skills in social studies and science and address fractions, decimals and algebra. This research will provide teachers with validated platforms to use in schools to ensure the academic success of students with serious learning problems.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Intervention for Children who Demonstrate Chronic Problem Behavior

Best in Class is an intervention for use by early elementary teachers with children who demonstrate chronic problem behavior. This intervention has been found to be effective in reducing child problem behavior, improving classroom atmosphere and teacher self-efficacy and has been implemented with fidelity in pre-K and elementary classrooms throughout the Richmond areas as well as with our partners in Florida. Additional positive outcomes include increased child engagement and on-task behavior, more positive teacher-child interactions, and improvements in social skills.

Providing Equitable Education to Underrepresented Student Groups

Action Research Teams for Culturally Responsive Teaching is a research-practice partnership grant that just finished that is being conducted with our faculty and teachers/students in two large school divisions in the Richmond area. Teachers and researchers are working together to develop culturally responsive teaching modules which will provide opportunities for teachers to be better equipper to provide equitable education to students from underrepresented groups.

Intervention for Academic Achievement and Social-Emotional Behavior in K-1 Children 

INSIGHTS in Nebraska is an efficacy study of a temperament-based social-emotional learning intervention. The intervention has been found to be effective with an urban population in under-resources schools, and this is a replication with a rural sample in the Midwest. The study is longitudinal and ongoing, disrupted by the Covid shutdown. However, results from the original study and the replication are converging on the effectiveness of this intervention for children in K-1st grade for improving behavior, social skills, and self-regulation, as well as academic achievement.