Project Archives

The following projects are complete and are listed in chronological order.

McNairs Scholars on trip

McNair Scholars Project

U.S. Dept. of Education

PI: Dr. Anthony Petrosino
October 2017 - September 2022

McNair Scholars Project provides research and other scholarly support to SMU students annually who meet program eligibility criteria. Participants receive academic support services and participate in research and graduate school workshops. Participants also participate in the McNair Summer Research Institute that includes a research methods course and culminates in the execution of an undergraduate research project. The project serves 26 SMU students annually. Two projects (STEM & SOAR) were awarded for the new grant cycle from 2017 to 2022. These two grants serve 124 students primarily in Dallas ISD high schools.

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Dr. Denisa Gándara

How Policymakers Distribute Funds to Higher Education during an Economic Recession

Spencer Foundation

PI: Dr. Denisa Gándara
Co-PIs: Dr. Meredith S. Billings (Sam Houston State University)
January 2021 - August 2022

Denisa Gándara, assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at SMU Simmons, has been awarded a $59,757 Spencer Foundation research grant to examine how policymakers in six states make decisions about funding higher education in the present economic recession. Her study, with co-PI Dr. Meredith Billings (Sam Houston State University) looks at which groups of public higher education institutions (e.g., minority-serving institutions, community colleges) and students (e.g., need-based aid or merit-aid recipients) receive benefits and which ones are burdened by state changes. She analyzes how policymakers justify their decisions.

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In The Zone - School Zone, West Dallas logo"

Project CONNECT: Creating the Ongoing Network Needed to Engage Communities and Teachers

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)

PI: Dr. Brenna Rivers
Co-PI: Dr. Paige Ware
September 2016 - August 2022

This $2 million project, funded by the Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), seeks to increase the number of ESL-certified teachers in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). Over the next five years, Project CONNECT will prepare 180 pre-service and in-service teachers by offering on-site graduate courses focused on English Learner instruction and family outreach into an area of Dallas called The School Zone (TSZ), an established coalition formed among the School of Education at SMU, the Dallas Independent School District, and 29 non-profit community providers. We will work with families at the community centers, and teachers will create a publicly available website featuring ideas for how to engage with multilingual resources about teaching and family collaboration.

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Upward Bound Math Science Projects instructor with students in lab

Upward Bound Math Science Projects

U.S. Dept. of Education

PI: Dr. Anthony Petrosino
STEM: September 2017 - August 2022
SOAR: September 2017 - August 2022

Upward Bound Math Science is also a pre-collegiate program that works with students through high school to prepare for college. Upward Bound Math Science services are similar to Upward Bound and are designed to help students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science. Students are provided hands-on learning experiences in classes such as engineering, robotics, biomedical sciences, 3-D printing, and information technology. Two projects (STEM & SOAR) were awarded for the new grant cycle from 2017 to 2022. These two grants serve 124 students primarily in Dallas ISD high schools.

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Students in lab with beakers

Collaborative (Strategies): Personalizing Mathematics to Maximize Relevance and Skill for Tomorrow's STEM Workforce

National Science Foundation (NSF)

PI: Dr. Candace Walkington
Co-PIs: Dr. Matthew Bernacki (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)
Dr. Harsha Perera (University of Nevada Las Vegas)
Dr. Neil Heffernan (Worcestor Polytechnic Institute)
August 2018 - July 2022

This project examines how to engage students taking foundational mathematics courses by connecting math to STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers. Using ASSISTments, students will watch videos, read stories, and solve example problems about how the math they are learning connects to careers that interest them, and then will pose and share their own math problems.

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Screenshot of The Hidden Village game

Project Motion Capture

University of Wisconsin Madison / The Guildhall at SMU / U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Mitchel Nathan (University of Wisconsin Madison)
Co-PIs: Dr. Candace Walkington, Dr. Peter Steiner (University of Wisconsin Madison)
July 2016 - July 2022

This project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Goal 1: Exploration), seeks to create a theory of embodied mathematical cognition for geometry learning. Specifically, this project examines how a Kinect-based video game can direct players to make arm motions that capture key geometric ideas and relations. The game includes a storyline where players encounter a mysterious tribe, and must form specific arm motions, detected by the Kinect camera, and then solve related geometry problems. The theory is that these directed actions will lead students to make their own co-speech dynamic gestures that show geometric transformations and relations. The team of researchers include Dr. Mitchell Nathan from the University of Wisconsin Madison, who is the Principal Investigator (PI) and his Co-PIs, Dr. Candace Walkington at Southern Methodist University and Dr. Peter Steiner at UW.

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Child and teacher in classroom environment.

A Research Partnership to Improve the Quality of Pre-K Classroom Practices and Child Outcomes in a Large Urban School District

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Akihito Kamata
July 2018 - June 2022

The Early Learning Department of the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) and the Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) are engaged in A Research Partnership to Improve the Quality of Pre-K Classroom Practices and Child Outcomes in a Large Urban School District. The research partnership focuses on providing high-quality pre-K programs to all children in the Dallas ISD. The purpose of the research partnership is to systematically improve overall pre-K quality through professional development (PD) Dallas ISD provides to instructional specialists (i.e., coaches) and pre-K classroom teachers. The partnership will focus on differentiating PD for teachers based on teacher need, focusing on high-quality teacher-child interactions aligned with the CLASS observation instrument and associated PD system. The partnership will also focus on improving PD for teachers in Instruction Support domain, which remains a particular challenge in pre-K classrooms. The research partnership will focus on all pre-K programs in the district.

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Dr. Al Otaiba sitting with student

Project FOCUS: Exploring Response to Intervention with a Focus on Students Receiving Tier 3 and Special Education for Reading Disabilities

Southern Methodist University / U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba
Co-PIs: Dr. Jill Allor, Dr. Paul Yovanoff, Dr. Aki Kamata
July 2016 - June 2022

This project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Goal 1), aims to identify and examine a key set of malleable variables (those that can be changed by the school) that are associated with outcomes for students in Tier 3 or in special education with reading disabilities. The study is being conducted in more than 7 states in collaboration with faculty and doctoral scholars from the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention. The team of SMU-based researchers includes PI Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba, Co-PIs Dr. Jill Allor, Dr. Paul Yovanoff, and Dr. Aki Kamata, as well as Dr. Brenna Rivas, Dr. Francesca Jones, Dr. Pooja Shivraj, Margaret Pyffer, Dominique Lyons, Damaris Florez, and Miriam Ortiz. Click here for a video describing the project.

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Dallas ISD Barrack Obama Male Leadership magnet school

SMU College Access Program

Dallas Independent School District

PI: Dr. Anthony Petrosino (Southern Methodist University)
Co-PIs: Dr. Deepika Menon (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), Dr. Sarah Haines (Towson University), Dr. Sumreen Asim (Indiana University Southeast)
September 2021 - June 2022

SMU will work directly with students to utilize the districts career exploration tool- SCOIR, complete college, financial aid and scholarship applications. SMU will collaborate with counselors to plan College Fairs, Summer Melt Prevention Texting Program, attend campus counseling meetings and postsecondary partnerships/ program meetings. SMU is also responsible for tracking and reporting data to the district monthly on students serviced.

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Classroom

The School Zone - Supporting After-School and Summer Programming

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

PI: Regina Nippert
July 2016 - June 2022

The School Zone - Supporting After-School and Summer Programming addresses the need for targeted and coordinated services when addressing low-income students’ complex challenges by equipping West Dallas' social sector to work together in a targeted and coordinated manner. In so doing, The School Zone addresses the need for effective collaboration between schools and after school/summer program providers as they prepare at-risk students for success.

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West Dallas Stem School (WDSS) breaking ground event.

West Dallas STEM Innovation School

Toyota Foundation

PI: Dean Stephanie Knight
June 2018 - June 2022

A generous gift from the Toyota USA Foundation has enabled SMU Simmons, Dallas ISD, and Toyota to form a partnership to develop a STEM-focused School in West Dallas. The School will feature an evidence-based, industry-informed STEM curriculum and community services that include extracurricular academic programming and student and family counseling.

Link: https://www.smu.edu/simmons/AboutUs/ModelSchool

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istation logo

Examining the Validity of Curriculum-based Standardized Learning and Assessment System

Istation

PI: Dean Stephanie Knight
September 2017 - May 2022

This is a 3-year project funded by Istation. This project investigates the validity and other psychometric properties of curriculum-based standardized learning and assessment systems in order to assist their effort on psychometric designs and analyses, such as test design, test equating, item calibration and growth model analysis.

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Teacher sitting at table with four young students

Improving Response to Intervention in Students With or At Risk of Reading Disabilities

U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH) / Vanderbilt University

PI: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba
August 2017 - May 2022

The Mindset study, funded by a National Institutes of Health grant, seeks to examine a reading intervention for fourth grade students with reading disabilities that integrates the psychosocial component of mindset with the academic component of reading. Specifically, we will examine the extent to which integrating mindset improves student response to reading intervention.

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Upward Bound Classic Projects Students

Upward Bound Classic Projects

U.S. Dept. of Education

PI: Dr. Anthony Petrosino
Classic I & III: September 2017 - August 2022
Classic II: June 2017 - May 2022

Upward Bound is a pre-collegiate program that works with students through high school to prepare for college by providing academic support services. Upward Bound support services include high school course tutoring, preparation for SAT and STAAR, high school and initial college course advising, financial aid and scholarship application assistance, and career planning. Three projects (Classic I, II, & III) were awarded for the new grant cycle from 2017 to 2022. These three grants serve 225 students primarily in Dallas ISD high schools.

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Teacher and student working one-on-one in classroom.

Measuring Success: Lumin Education

Wend Ventures / Lumin Education

PI: Dr. Jan Mallett
Co-PI: Hiba Rahim
February 2019 - January 2022

A grant from Wend Ventures, formerly the Walton Family Foundation, was awarded to SMU Simmons CORE and Teaching and Learning. The project will fund research that will evaluate how the Lumin Education model of starting young, involving parents, and offering Montessori education results in improved academic achievement, emotional well-being, and executive function for its students. The study will build evaluation capacity and provide formative data to Lumin for continuous quality improvement. If possible, Lumin students will be compared to other students in the Dallas area. The goal of the collaboration between Lumin and The Simmons School collaboration is to answer emerging questions about the effects of Montessori education and the Lumin practices of starting young and involving parents. Also, the project will equip Lumin with additional tools and resources related to data collection, usage, and reporting that will serve as proof points to gain additional financial support and to sustain Lumin programming. Jan Mallett, PI, Hiba Rahim, CoPI, Elisa Gallegos, and Harvey Luna represent SMU Simmons on the project.

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Professor teaching class

Public Two-Year Institution District Service Areas and Racial Segregation

Spencer Foundation

PI: Dr. Dominique Baker
January 2020 - September 2021

Despite extensive attention to racial/ethnic segregation within K-12 education, particularly on attendance zones, scholars have rarely examined segregation in postsecondary education. At least 17 states have created service areas or “districts” for each of their public two-year institution that function similar to K-12 attendance zones. Given this dearth of knowledge, Dr. Baker will study the district boundaries of two-year institutions in order to investigate whether there is gerrymandering in the district boundaries and whether that boundary construction is associated with segregation. She will investigate this relationship in Texas (a useful case study due to its expansive sector of public two-year institutions and availability of district boundary information). Using student exchange framework, Dr. Baker will create and analyze a geospatial data set of Texas districts (merged with institutional and US Census data). Public two-year institutions educate a significant share of the US postsecondary education population. It matters whether the policy determining who attends which public two-year institutions exacerbates existing racial inequities.

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Highschool students sitting on stairwell

Education Talent Search Projects

U.S. Dept. of Education

PI: Dr. David Deggs, Project LAUNCH, Project LIFT
September 2016 - August 2021

Education Talent Search (ETS) identifies and assists high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. ETS program staff provide academic advising, career planning and guidance, and mentoring services to students. The program is designed to support students as they graduate from high school and transition to college. ETS staff also assist students complete financial aid applications and manage the college application process. The program serves a total of 1,000 students annually between two projects (Project LAUNCH & Project LIFT).

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Dr. Baker researching in the Simmons School Reading Roo

Excess in Texas: An investigation of the effect of state policies concerning excess credit hours on student success

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

PI: Dr. Dominique Baker
January 2020 - August 2021

In response to a growing concern about disparities in college completion and the student loan debt burden of college students, a small but rapidly growing number of states and institutions have begun implementing policies aimed at encouraging on-time completion. One of the ways that states have sought to limit student debt while encouraging timely graduation is to implement policies that disincentivize students from attempting too many courses beyond the number required for their degree program. Such initiatives are called Excess Semester Credit Hour (ESCH) policies. While Texas has had an ESCH since 1999, a 2006 revision created stricter thresholds for student violations of the policy. The proposed study investigates the institutional and student responses to this policy change, particularly for students historically underrepresented within higher education. The project will improve the scholarly understanding of the effect of this particular state policy for student success and will also inform state and institutional policymakers of potential unintended consequences of this policy (e.g., since the penalties generally include an additional fee for students to take courses beyond a set threshold, the policies may induce students to accumulate a larger amount of undergraduate student debt in order to cover the additional costs of finishing their degree).

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Measuring Oral Reading Fluency Project: Computerized Oral Reading Evaluation (CORE)

U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Akihito Kamata
September 2014 - July 2020

This is a 4-year project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences through the U.S. Dept. of Education, collaborating with the University of Oregon. The purpose of this project is to develop a new computer-based assessment system for measuring oral reading fluency for students in grades 2-4. The new assessment system incorporates a speech recognition engine for automated scoring, as well as a new psychometric model for improved estimation of reading speed. It is anticipated that the new assessment system will substantially improve currently available oral fluency measures, both from efficiency and accuracy perspectives.

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Building a Dallas-area Mathematics Teacher Pipeline

National Science Foundation (NSF)

PI: Anne Garrison Wilhelm 
Co-PI: Dr. Scott Norris 
Collaborators: Regina Nippert
June 2018 - May 2019

This Noyce Capacity Building project focuses on helping to meet the need for secondary mathematics teachers in the Dallas area. The project will work to create a circular pipeline through which local students attending DCCCD would attend SMU, participate in a community-focused training program, and then return to teach in high-need schools in their home communities. As DCCCD has a highly diverse student body, this project also seeks to enhance the diversity of teachers in the Dallas-area. The project aims to educate and support the student scholars so that they will be well prepared to teach in the area schools and be more likely to stay in those schools.  For more information, click here

Link: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1758435&HistoricalAwards=false

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Project VES: Vocabulario Explícito y Sistemático

Universidad Católica del Maule, Chile / Southern Methodist University

PI: Dr. Maribel Granada Azcárraga (Universidad Católica del Maule), Dr. Maria Pilar Pomes (Universidad Católica del Maule), Dr. Doris Luft Baker
January 2014 - May 2019

This small-scale experimental study explores the effects of a Spanish vocabulary intervention on the literacy outcomes of second grade students at risk for vocabulary difficulties in Chile. Results of a randomized control trial indicated that children who received the VES intervention significantly outperformed children in the comparison group on their word knowledge.

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Project Personalized Learning

Southern Methodist University

PI: Dr. Candace Walkington
Co-PIs: Dr. Dara Rossi, Dr. Aki Kamata
September 2016 - December 2018

Dr. Candace Walkington, Dr. Dara Rossi, and Dr. Aki Kamata are engaging in a large-scale research study that examines the impact of the Personalized Learning (PL) initiative in Dallas ISD. As part of this research, they are examining student and teacher-level outcomes at 5 Dallas ISD schools that have recently transformed into “personalized learning” schools. They are comparing the teachers and students at these schools to others in the same feeder pattern. In addition, complementary research is engaging teachers at the PL schools in surveys and interviews where they define and discuss their implementation of PL in their classroom and at their school.

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TFA Corps Member and Alumni Impact in Texas

Teach for America (TFA)

PI - Dr. Annie Wright
Co-PIs: Dylan Farmer, Yetunde Zannou
April 2018 - December 2018

CORE was awarded an evaluation contract to evaluate Teach for America Corps Member and Alumni Impact in Texas. The purpose of the evaluation is to measure the impact of TFA corps member and alumni teachers across Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio. Specifically, the evaluation will estimate the impact on student achievement of TFA member and alumni teachers in Texas from 2012 to 2018 as measured by STAAR exams. The evaluation includes extensive public information request directly from Texas Education Agency followed by a collaborative and iterative analysis procedure. Findings will indicate how TFA members and alumni compare to teachers with other training, as well as the impact of consistency and saturation of TFA members and alumni. Sustainability of effects as well as the influence of other district, school, teacher and student factors will be explored. The anticipated completion month is December 2018.

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Validity Studies for Spanish Assessments

Istation

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
August 2017 - October 2018

The purpose of the Validity Studies is to gather evidence about the appropriateness of ISIP Spanish Assessments for Grades PK-5. Evidence collected aligns with the Techical Standards as specified on the National Center for Response to Intervention (NC-RTI) tools chart for universal screeners and the Nationa Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) tools chart for progress monitoring tools.

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Safe Haven PALS

Safe Haven PALS

Co-PIs: Dr. Annie Wright, Hiba Rahim, Dr. Karen Bembry
October 2016 - September 2018

Safe Haven of Tarrant County provides a range of violence prevention activities including an in-school bullying prevention campaign, Peer Abuse Learning SafeHaven (PALS). CORE is currently working with PALS to review curriculum materials, assess best practices, revise a logic model and develop a data collection plan for treatment and comparison schools in third grade at Birdville ISD. Fidelity of implementation, student surveys and focus group will be used to understand both process and outcomes of this intervention.

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University Commitment to Interdisciplinary Research

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Co-PIs: Dr. Sondra N. Barringer, Dr. Erin Leahey (University of Arizona)
July 2015 - July 2018

This project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Science of Science and Innovation Policy Program, seeks to understand the scope, precursors and consequences of university level commitment to interdisciplinary research. Specifically, the research team is developing a multi-dimensional measure of universities’ commitment to interdisciplinary research and assessing why universities nationwide vary in their commitment to this. The team will also assess the consequences of universities’ commitment levels for their prestige, productivity, and financial well-being. Understanding the precursors and consequences of universities’ commitments allows us to understand which investments in interdisciplinary work benefit universities the most, and the most effective way to develop those commitments.

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Locomotion with Loads: Practical Approaches to Predicting Performance Outcomes

U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command

PI: Dr. Peter Weyand
April 2016 - April 2018

Our locomotion with loads project investigates the mechanical and physiological consequences of the heavy loads foot soldiers often carry. Algorithms predicting decreases in mobility and increases in metabolic stress will provide an evidentiary basis to inform decisions about the loads soldiers carry, mission readiness and performance in the field. The work has longer-term applications in wearable sensing of metabolism, aerobic fitness and fatigue and overall physiological status.

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Galápagos Conservancy

Galápagos Conservancy

PI: Hiba Rahim
April 2017 - January 2018

The Galápagos Conservancy is partnering with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education to provide a comprehensive professional development intervention consisting of bi-annual training institutes, instructional coaching, and facilitation of teacher professional learning circles (PLCs). CORE collaborated with multiple international partners to design an evaluation plan and accompanying tools to measure the quality of delivery of these initiatives and their emerging impact on instructional practices across the Galápagos Islands. This 4 year project aims to provide evidence based best practices in professional development and uses multiple sources of data to triangulate evidence to inform formative, process, developmental, and outcome indicators.

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Project walkSTEM

American Educational Research Association (AERA), Education Research Service Project (ERSP)

PI: Dr. Candace Walkington
Co-PIs: Dr. Koshi Dhingra, Min Wang
June 2019 - June 2020

WalkSTEM is an initiative in Dallas, Texas, that was launched and is run by the non-profit organization TalkSTEM. In walkSTEM after-school clubs, students meet weekly to create their own mathematical "stops" for a walk around their school or community. Students then lead an audience (other students, parents, teachers) on their walk, acting as docents who explain how mathematics is integrated into the surroundings. For this project, we will film a walkSTEM after-school club’s activities, and utilize interviews and surveys with participants to explore students’ problem posing activities. Through this research, we seek to inform the non-profit’s future implementation of both the walkSTEM afterschool club and the walkSTEM model more generally, including identifying important supports for success, key characteristics of the model, and persistent issues that must be considered and addressed. We also seek to document the impact of the model and the kind of problem-posing work students do as they engage with the club.

See a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO5g6S9s3DY&feature=youtu.be

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Life Schools

Life Schools

PI: Dr. Annie Wright
August 2015 - December 2017

Life Schools network of charter schools is partnering with CORE to investigate the impacts of Life School’s teacher incentive pay system. Using a 360-degree approach, CORE is collecting a range of data to help describe the Life Schools climate and culture, instructional practices, professional development strategies and student achievement.

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Project ELVA: English Learner Vocabulary Acquisition

U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

PIs: Dr. Doris Luft Baker
Co-PIs: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba, Dr. Ron Cole and Dr. Wayne Ward (Boulder Language Technologies)
July 2014 - December 2017

Project ELVA is designed to create a feasible and promising intervention to increase the vocabulary knowledge and language proficiency of second grade Spanish-speaking English learners (ELs). We used an intelligent tutoring system where the virtual tutor, EVA, provides prompts and feedback to students on vocabulary activities connected to abstract words in science and social studies. Themes selected take into account the second grade Common Core State Standards and the Texas standards. Watch video demonstration and a link with a more detailed description on the IES website.

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Creating a Prototype Augmented Reality Simulation for Learning High School Geometry

SMU University Research Council

PI: Dr. Candace Walkington
Co-PIs: Elizabeth Stringer, Deputy Director - Academics, SMU Guildhall
June 2019 - June 2020 

This interdisciplinary grant proposal seeks to build and test a “proof of concept” prototype of an augmented reality simulation environment for learning high school geometry. This grant is a collaboration between a faculty member in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development (Candace Walkington) and a faculty member in the SMU Guildhall Videogame Design Program (Elizabeth Stringer). With this grant, we seek to: (1) Design geometry simulations that utilize the Microsoft HoloLens 2 Augmented Reality (AR) system, (2) Create simulations that allow for hands-free, collaborative (multi-person) coordinated manipulations of geometric objects, (3) Test the simulation’s usability with pairs of middle and high school students working together to explore a single virtual geometric object, and (4) Assess what participants learn about geometry from using the simulation.

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National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Projects (OSEP)

A consortium funded by the Office of Special Education Programs. This consortium will prepare special education leaders to become experts in research on intensive intervention for students with disabilities who have persistent and severe academic (e.g., reading and math) and behavioral difficulties. The project is currently recruiting applicants to begin doctoral study in special education in Fall 2015. The project will provide generous support (i.e., tuition, stipend, research funding) for 28 doctoral scholars at partner institutions in a consortium that includes Vanderbilt University, Southern Methodist University, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Minnesota, University of Texas at Austin, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Scholars will participate in a core curriculum focused on intensive intervention and will contribute to the Intensive Intervention Network, a web site designed to advance research on and implementation of intensive intervention. The project will provide opportunities for scholars to participate in cross-institutional research activities. In addition, the consortium will provide opportunities for scholars to intern with national centers supported by OSEP (i.e., Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform [CEEDAR], National Center on Intensive Intervention [NCII], the IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University) and the Institute of Education Sciences (i.e., Accelerated Academic Achievement Center [A3]). www.nclii.org

NCLII Logo

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Tweeting to Learn: Exploring How Mathematics Teachers Collaborate on Twitter

Southern Methodist University

PI: Dr. Anne Garrison Wilhelm
June 2015 - May 2020 

With internal funding from the University Research Council, this project aims to describe how mathematics teachers are using Twitter to learn about mathematics teaching. The goal is to understand the scope of the network of mathematics teachers on Twitter and to understand the learning opportunities for teachers who participate in this network. Dr. Wilhelm is collaborating with Dr. Michael Hahsler and Oscar Vallner from the Lyle School of Engineering to collect and mine the data from Twitter in a systematic way.

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Out of School Use of 4G Tablets

AT&T / Momentous Institute

PI: Dr. Alexandra Pavlakis
Co-PIs: Dr. Paige Ware, Dr. Karla del Rosal
January 2016 - December 2017

In collaboration with AT&T and the Momentous Institute, the Out of School Use of 4G Tablet Project aims to better understand how families use educational technology in the home. In particular, it examines how use of LTE connected tablets loaded with education software and provided to students, teachers and administrators shapes learning and family-school engagement. Learn more at the collaboration between AT&T and the Momentous Institute at att.com/aspire. The Simmons’ team includes Dr. Alexandra Pavlakis (PI), Dr. Paige Ware (Co-PI), Dr. Karla del Rosal, and doctoral student Jillian Conry. The Simmons team is conducting Spanish and English language focus groups with parents, focus groups with teachers, semi-structured interviews with school leaders, document analysis of school artifacts related to educational technology and school-community relations, and repeated home visits with focal families.

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An Experimental Examination of Hoot Education for Providing Technology-Based Data Focused Coaching in Special Education Resource Rooms

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

PI: Dr. Beverly Weiser
December 2012 - November 2017

The current research is investigating the effectiveness of technology-based coaching support through the Hoot Education System, a platform that is built on a cutting edge, fully unified system that allows a coach and a team of teachers to collaborate and support one another as a professional community from a distance via video-observation / conferencing, social networking, and performance data. Special Education teachers receiving this coaching support are teaching students in grades K-8th who are being served under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) for Reading Learning Disabilities (RLD). The research goal is to examine how on-going, data-focused instructional coaching through technology may improve SPED teachers’ knowledge and delivery of reading instruction and thus, hopefully increase student engagement, learning, and academic performances.

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The "Promise" of Free Tuition and Impacts on College Enrollment: Differences Across Race and Socioeconomic status

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

PI: Dr. Denisa Gandara
Co-PI: Dr. Amy Li
October 2017 - October 2019

Dr. Gandara has received one of 3 AERA research grants awarded in 2017 to study free college or "Promise" programs with co-PI Dr. Amy Li (University of Northern Colorado). Promise programs, which cover college tuition (and sometimes other costs) for all eligible students in a geographic region, have proliferated across the United States, with recent adoptions in New York, California, and Dallas County. Dr. Gandara and Dr. Li's study is the first to examine -at a national scale- which groups of students benefit most from these programs. Specifically, the study examines how enrollments change at community colleges that are subject to Promise programs, and how effects vary by Promise program design features.

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TI STEM Academy

Texas Instruments Foundation

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
May 2015 - May 2020

In 2016, a four-year project partnering with TI, Dallas Independent School District (DISD), and Simmons launched, aimed at increasing student achievement, engagement, and perseverance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through a STEM Teacher & Leader Academy that develops teacher ability and leadership, as well as fosters teacher skill and professional growth in these critical disciplines. This project will include a three-week intensive academy held on SMU campus each summer as well as coaching support throughout the academic year. In the summer of 2017, Grade 8 middle school teachers from six DISD schools will be the inaugural cohort and this will scale up by 2020 to collectively impact 24 schools, 24 administrators, 216 teachers, and an estimated 43,000 students.

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Dallas Afterschool

Dallas Afterschool

PI: Dr. Annie Wright
June 2016 - November 2017

CORE is evaluating the impacts of quality afterschool programming on students’ academic, social & emotional well-being. Data collection includes: support for & delivery of quality programs, student surveys, staff assessments of student social-emotional skills, academic achievement, and interviews of staff at partner organizations. Initial results show positive impacts for some grade levels on math, and positive impacts of DAS’s coaching and training on overall afterschool program quality. Data analysis techniques such as factor analysis and propensity score matching (PSM) are used to provide different types information back to the client.

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Parent Math Training Pilot in Jamaica

Inter-American Development Bank / Jamaican Ministry or Education

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
June 2015 - August 2017

The Parent Math Training Pilot in Jamaica is a pilot program targeting parents in low-income communities in Jamaica to support their foundational mathematics knowledge by providing them with evidence-based learning materials. The intent of the project is to increase the number and quality of parents' mathematical interactions with their children at home.

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Project HFN: Hispanic Families Network

Project HFN: Hispanic Families Network

PI: Dr. Doris Luft Baker
June 2014 - July 2017

The purpose of the Hispanic Families Network (HFN) project is to create, train, and empower a network of Hispanic mothers in three Dallas neighborhoods with the goal of improving the educational attainment of Hispanic children. Mothers are trained to share resources and information with other mothers through methods including reporting and writing, videos, blogging, and social media. Once trained, these mothers reach out to other mothers to support their efforts in improving their children’s kindergarten readiness and reading at grade level by third grade.

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Passport to Literacy: Examining the Effectiveness of the Voyager Passport Intervention for Fourth-grade Students With or at High Risk for Reading Disabilities

Vanderbilt University / U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba
July 2013 - June 2017

This project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Goal 3: Efficacy), aims to examine a widely-used, reading intervention, Voyager Passport (Passport), for fourth grade students with reading difficulties and disabilities. The intervention is being tested in schools in West Dallas and in Northern Florida. The team of researchers include Dr. Jeannie Wanzek from the Vanderbilt University, who is the Principal Investigator (PI) and her Co-PIs, Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba at Southern Methodist University and Dr. Yaacov Petscher at FSU. The SMU-based team includes: Dr. Brenna Rivas, Dr. Francesca Jones, Dawn Levy, and Jenni Lawton.

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Project ELM (Early Literacy Measurement): Investigating the Technical Adequacy of Progress Monitoring Measures for Kindergarten Students at-risk for Reading

University of Texas at Austin / U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba
July 2013 - June 2017

This project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Goal 5: measurement), aims to examine the reliability and validity of existing early reading assessments in order to make definitive recommendations to teachers and schools regarding the measure(s) that may be the most reliable, valid, and preferable for monitoring kindergarten reading growth. The team of researchers include Dr. Nathan Clemons from University of Texas @ Austin, who is the Principal Investigator (PI) and his Co-PIs, Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba at Southern Methodist University, Dr. Shanna Hagen-Burke, Dr. Oi-man Kwok, and Project Advisor Dr. Deborah Simmons at TAMU. The SMU-based team includes: Dr. Brenna Rivas, Dr. Francesca Jones, Dawn Levy, and Jenni Lawton.

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Project Intensity: The Development of a Supplemental Literacy Program Designed to Provide Extensive Practice with Multiple-Criteria Text for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Jill Allor
Co-PIs: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba, Dr. Paul Yovanoff
July 2013 - June 2017

The purpose of this grant is to develop (or select) carefully designed texts and application lessons to provide students who are struggling to learn to read, particularly those with intellectual disabilities, with (a) focused opportunities to develop listening and reading comprehension, (b) additional cumulative review of key skills, and (c) explicit instruction in the transfer and application of skills to text. The project is led by Dr. Jill Allor (PI), Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba and Dr. Paul Yovanoff (Co-PIs).

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Black, Watt Lesley, Jr. , “When Teachers Go Viral: Balancing Institutional Efficacy Against the First Amendment Rights of Public Educators in the Age of Facebook,” 82 Mo. L. Rev. 1 (Winter, 2017).

PI: Dr. Watt Lesley Black, Jr.
September 2015 - March 2017

The Google search term “teacher in trouble over social media post” yields almost one billion hits. Now that the use of social media is ubiquitous, public educators are increasingly finding themselves in hot water with their employers as a result of their online speech. When teachers have engaged in social media expression that is controversial, educational leaders are often unclear on how to respond. This project is an exhaustive examination of the developing First Amendment law around public employees and their use of social media. It involves both a critical analysis of existing law well as a proposed framework through which education and legal practitioners can evaluate controversial online speech of teachers and other school employees and reach personnel decisions that are both legally and ethically defensible. The article and framework were the subject of a presentation at the Education Law Association annual conference in Orlando in November of 2016, as well as multiple webinars and presentations to audiences of both legal and educational practitioners.

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Dynamic Blood Pressure Control and Orthostatic Tolerance in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

National Institutes of Health Heart Lung and Blood Institute and National Multiple Sclerosis Society

PI: Dr. Scott Davis
April 2013 - March 2017

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system and relatively little is known regarding the consequences of MS on the control of cardiovascular function. The overall goal of this project, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is to investigate the consequences of MS on dynamic blood pressure control (i.e., baroreflex control of arterial blood pressure and the associated end organ responses mediated by the baroreflex control mechanisms, including neural, cardiac, and peripheral vascular responsiveness) and orthostatic tolerance. These research studies have profound implications for understanding the physiology of MS and developing potential treatments/interventions that will benefit the overall health and well-being of individuals with MS.

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Fostering Educational Opportunities

Sam Taylor Fellowship

PI: Dr. Alexandra Pavlakis
March 2016 - March 2017

With funding from the Sam Taylor Fellowship, the Fostering Educational Opportunities Project examines an after school program that serves youth who are experiencing homelessness and high mobility (HHM). In this qualitative project, Dr. Alexandra Pavlakis (PI) is studying how the after school program shapes educational opportunities for HHM youth. Data collection includes: artifact collection; focus groups; observation of programming; and, semi­‐structured interviews with youth, staff, and volunteers.

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Algebra 1 Universal Screening System and Algebra Readiness Progress Monitoring Tool (ARPM)

Istation

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
August 2015 - September 2016

The Algebra 1 Universal Screener allows teachers to identify students at-risk for not meeting curricular expectations. The assessments are intended to be administered in the fall, winter, and spring, and results can guide teachers' instructional decisions. ARPM was developed to support teachers as they monitor their students' progress of algebra readiness knowledge and skills in Grades 6-8 within a Response to Intervention framework.

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 Young students in front of Dallas Hall

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Community Impact Grant

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

PI: Regina Nippert
July 2013 - June 2016

The Center on Communities and Education is partnering with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to develop an electronic case management system that will enable participating organizations in The School Zone (West Dallas schools and nonprofits) to access approved student data and target their resources to specific student needs. The purpose of this and all of The School Zone’s interventions is to improve academic achievement for West Dallas students by 5% annually. The goal is that by 2020, 80% of these students will be on track for college and careers at every age group.

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istation's indicators of Progress logo

Istation's Indicators of Progress (ISIP)

Istation

PI: Dr. Patricia Mathes
Early Reading: March 2008 - February 2012
Advanced Reading: August 2013 - August 2015

In this fast-track application, the Institute for Evidence-Based Education (IEBE) developed a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) to provide universal ongoing, continuous progress assessment data of critical reading skills to teachers of students. The primary purpose of this assessment was to facilitate a teacher's ability to provide differentiated instruction for all students, including students who struggle as well as students who excel. The IEBE at SMU and partner organization, Istation, named the assessment, Istation's Indicators of Progress, and created a sophisticated web-delivered Continuous Progress Monitoring (CPM) assessment system driven by a CAT algorithm built from Item Response Theory to gather and report frequent information about student progress in critical domains of reading throughout and even across academic years. Additionally, this team created easy-to-interpret, web-based reports for teachers and other school personnel that detail the needs of students, and provide links to lesson plans and other resources. For information on: ISIP Advanced and Early Reading.

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Texas Education Agency: Response to Intervention (RtI) Guidance App and Website

Texas Education Agency, ESC XIII (TEA)

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
September 2014 - August 2015

RME partnered with the Texas Education Agency and Education Service Center XIII to revise and update the state's guidance document on Response to Intervention, innovatively delivered via a mobile app and website.

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Project PAR: Promoting Algebra Readiness

U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
June 2012 - May 2015

RME partnered with the University of Oregon on a strategic intervention on rational numbers in the middle school grades. The team developed 100 lessons delivered to small groups of students needing moderate to intensive intervention. This project is currently being pilot tested to examine the potential promise of increasing student achievement.

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Elementary School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (ESTAR) Diagnostic Assessment Development Project

Texas Education Agency, ESC XIII (TEA)

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
September 2013 - August 2014

RME’s work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has been extended to include diagnostic assessments for students in grades 2-4. The Elementary School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (ESTAR) project began with universal screeners, which were released in the fall of 2013. With the success of the MSTAR Diagnostic Assessments, (grades 5-8), TEA has continued their partnership with RME and the ESTAR Diagnostic Assessments are currently in development. The diagnostic assessments will help teachers identify why students are struggling in key algebra-readiness content areas.

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Young student's height being measured

TEKS Alignment for Universal Screener Math Item Bank

Istation

PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
July 2013 - August 2014

RME’s work with Istation was renewed to enhance the existing Universal Screening Assessment System in Mathematics item bank in grades 2-8 to align with the revised Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Information from administering these computerized adaptive tests is reported to teachers in order to support making two instructional decisions: (1) to identify students who are struggling in mathematics, and (2) identify the intensity of instructional support students will need to improve their performance.

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Project Creating the Ongoing Network Needed to Educate Children and Teachers

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)

PI: Dr. Paige Ware
July 2007 - July 2013

Project CONNECT was funded by the Department of Education through the Office of English Language Acquisition to provide secondary teachers of science, math, social studies, English language arts, and special education with graduate course work and experiences to support their ability to teach emerging bilingual children. SMU partnered with Grand Prairie and Irving Independent School Districts to help over 100 teachers earn their supplementary certification in English as a Second Language.

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Response-to-Intervention

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)

PI: Dr. Patricia Mathes
August 2009 - July 2013

SMU's Response-to-Intervention (RtI) research examined the role of technology in supporting effective implementation of an RtI framework with first-grade struggling readers. RtI is a framework for providing instructional services to children and, based on how they respond to these services, increasing the intensity of instructional services as needed. The ultimate goal of an RtI framework is to prevent learning problems when possible, and to determine who does and does not require on-going additional support, presumably through Special Education. This research received funding from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. For more information on RtI.

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Young student taking examine

Early Learning in Mathematics (ELM)

University of Oregon / U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. David Chard, Dr Scott Baker
Co-PIs: Dr. Ben Clark, Dr. Hank Fien, Dr. Smolkowski
March 2008 - February 2012

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the purpose of the 4-year research project was to test the efficacy of the Early Learning in Mathematics (ELM) curriculum. The ELM curriculum is a comprehensive mathematics curriculum for general education kindergarten classrooms consisting of 120 lessons providing explicit instruction in (a) number operations, (b) geometry, (c) measurement, and (d) vocabulary. The curriculum was developed to address concerns related to poor achievement across the grades in mathematics, particularly for students from low income (SES) and minority backgrounds. For more information on ELM.

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Project Maximize

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Projects (OSEP)

PI: Dr. Jill Allor
Co-PIs: Dr. Patricia Mathes, Dr. Ian Harris
January 2005 - Decemeber 2010

Project Maximize, funded in 2005 by the Office of Special Education Projects (OSEP) in the U.S. Dept. of Education, was a 4-year longitudinal study examining methods for teaching reading to students with severe reading difficulties including students with intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) and autism. We are seeking to determine the effectiveness of a comprehensive, phonics-based reading program in teaching students with ID to fully process print and meaning of connected text. View a blog and video post on SMU Research, May 20, 2014. For additional information on Project Maximize.

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Project ELLA: English Language/Literacy Acquisition

Texas A & M University / U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)

PI: Dr. Patricia Mathes
October 2003 - Septmember 2009

Project ELLA was a five-year longitudinal research study funded in 2003 by the U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Science (IES), and represents a collaborative project between researchers at Texas A & M University, Sam Houston State University, and the Institute for Evidence-Based Education. The primary objective of Project ELLA was to implement a scientifically rigorous evaluation of alternative instructional models for primary grade students whose first language is Spanish. For more information on Project ELLA.

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Scaling-up Effective Interventions for Preventing Reading Difficulties

U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI)

PI: Dr. Patricia Mathes
September 2003 - August 2009

Project Scale-up was a five-year multi-site research study, funded in 2003 under the Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI) by the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Dept. of Education. It represents a collaboration between the Institute for Evidence-Based Education (IEBE) and the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Reading and Language Arts (UTCRLA). The primary objective was to investigate the processes involved with implementing research-validated first-grade reading interventions on a wide scale, in multiple schools with multiple contexts. Additionally, we focused efforts on the impact of ongoing support - coaching - by providing periodic in-person visits or interactive technology communications to reading intervention teachers. For more information on Project Scale-up.

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Fluency Foundation: Talking Fingers

Talking Fingers, Inc.

PI: Dr. Caroline Keethley
August 2006 - January 2007

This project examined two models for increasing reading fluency. In one model, children were taught advanced decoding skills and then were asked to apply these skills to text reading. In the second model, children were asked to engage in frequent oral reading of connected test. Both models were compared using computer programs designed to increase reading fluency based on one or the other model. This endeavor began in 2005 and was completed in 2006.

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Project DELLS: Development of English Language Literacy in Spanish Speaking Children

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

PI: Dr. Patricia Mathes
June 2003 - May 2004

Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), this research represents a collaboration between the University of Houston, the University of Texas in Austin, the University of Texas in Houston Medical School, and SMU. Multiple projects examined various facets of providing quality education to English language learners who are native Spanish speakers. The Institute for Evidence-Based Education was involved in a project that examined the impact of providing intensive reading intervention to struggling readers who are native-Spanish-speaking first graders. Some children were taught to read in Spanish, while others were taught to read in English. These children were monitored through third grade to determine which approach facilitates greater English language and literacy learning. SMU's part of the study was performed in 2004, the fourth year of research funding. For further information and results on Project DELLS.

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Learning by Leaps and Bounds - Language Enrichment Activities Program logos

An Experimental Investigation of LEAP

Texas Instruments Foundation

PI: Dr. Patricia Mathes
Co-PI: Dr. Deborah Diffily
August 2004 - August 2005

This project was designed to determine the efficacy of the Language Enrichment Activities Program (LEAP). Conducted in public schools in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD from 2004 through 2005, this study compared the reading-readiness skills of children at-risk for future reading and learning difficulties due to low SES or English language-learning issues in a preschool classroom that used the LEAP curriculum to the reading readiness skills of "regular" children who were taught with the LEAP curriculum in another preschool classroom in the same building.

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