COLLEGE PARK, MD (November, 2015) Assistant Professor Jade Wexler of the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education is a co-principal investigator on a newly funded research project, undertaken in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austins Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER). The research team has received a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Educations Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSEP) for PACT+, a model demonstration project to improve adolescent literacy for students with disabilities. The project is led by Dr. Sharon Vaughn of MCPER, and Dr. Elizabeth Swanson and Dr. Greg Roberts, also with MCPER, join Dr. Wexler as co-principal investigators.
PACT+ will be conducted in approximately thirty classrooms at four middle schools in the District of Columbia Public Schools. The project brings together two previously developed interventions: Promoting Adolescents Comprehension of Text (PACT), a fully text-based approach to comprehension and vocabulary designed for content-area teachers of social studies, science, and English/language arts; and the Research-based Intensive Intervention for Students with Disabilities (RISD), a reading intervention for students with disabilities who require more intensive interventions to accelerate their reading performance. The researchers will also provide extensive professional development and coaching support in order to ensure that participating teachers have the knowledge and expertise to implement the model effectively and with high fidelity.
The researchers will collect data from group and individually administered student measures comprehension, word reading, fluency, and content knowledge to measure the interventions effects and enhance the model from year to year. These measures seek to capture changes in overall reading, the social validity of the model, and adjustments to students context-related outcomes (for instance, attendance and grades).
“This project is very research-to-practice oriented,” says Dr. Wexler. “We are trying to build a school-wide change model that integrates adolescent literacy practices previously found to be effective. Students with disabilities and those who struggle with reading in general spend a majority of their day in content-area classes, which is why it is essential for content-area teachers to integrate evidence-based vocabulary and comprehension practices. Many of these students will also require more supplemental intensive intervention as well, and therefore we will also work close with special education and reading teachers to improve student outcomes through supplemental support.”
Dr. Jade Wexler is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education. She investigates practices to improve reading instruction across the content areas and in the supplemental intervention setting for adolescents with reading disabilities and behavior disorders. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was co-director of the Dropout Institute at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk.
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