Largest Grant in History of College of Education Awarded to Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk

June 17, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk has been awarded a $20 million, five-year grant by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the largest ever received by the College of Education.

The grant will fund research projects that contribute to and support the IES's Reading for Understanding Research Initiative. The initiative's primary aim is to improve students' reading comprehension from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. The Meadows Center will be targeting seventh through 12th grade learners.

Research teams of scientists will examine the underlying processes of reading comprehension and identify possible interventions that can improve comprehension; develop and test these interventions; and evaluate the impact of the interventions. Interventions may include instructional approaches that educators are using, curricula, technology and professional development that teachers are receiving.

School and district personnel will be invited to participate in order to assure that proposed interventions are feasible and practical for implementation within existing school structures.

"We have a fabulous team of outstanding researchers who will be studying the role of language development, memory, background knowledge and vocabulary in the development of instructional practices that will improve our understanding of reading comprehension in seventh through 12th grade students," says Dr. Sharon Vaughn, executive director of The Meadows Center, director of the Reading Center and principal investigator at The University of Texas at Austin for the Reading for Understanding Research Initiative.

The Meadows Center, which was created in 2008, generates empirically valid knowledge and resources aimed at reducing academic, behavioral and social risk in young learners, particularly those with disabilities. The center also collaborates with other disciplines at The University of Texas at Austin and with other programs, centers and areas within the College of Education, such as the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts.

"This is a historical moment for the College of Education — we are very excited to receive this grant of $20 million from the IES, the most that has ever been awarded to one of our programs or scholars," says Dr. Manuel J. Justiz, dean of the College of Education.

"We're particularly pleased to have these resources go to research on reading comprehension and reading skills improvement. Students who do not have age-appropriate reading skills are not likely to enjoy academic success in any of their classes — and if interventions do not occur, they will have limited job prospects as adults. Equipping teachers to nurture better readers is an absolutely critical endeavor."

For more information, contact: Kay Randall, College of Education, 512 471 6033;  Gregory Roberts, Meadows Center and Vaughn Gross Center, College of Education, 512-475-6554.

6 Comments to "Largest Grant in History of College of Education Awarded to Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk"

1.  Elizabeth N. Hoffmann said on June 24, 2010

Thanks for this report. I've been encouraged by other reports about instructional practices making a difference in at-risk populations, and I'm pleased by funding to support learning. Twice I experienced the role of vocabulary in reading comprehension. Before I was a college student, a mentor explained an unfamiliar word, and then I could summarize the article he'd shared with me. Studying in the library my senior year, I came to a German term and decided to check with a German dictionary that was nearby. When I understood that term, suddenly the whole page made sense! I contemplated starting college all over again, since I'd learned to use the library. I didn't actually abandon the learning and credits I'd acquired to that point, but I did pursue further higher education.

2.  Elizabeth Carneiro said on June 24, 2010

If you need an elementary classroom to help with the study, I teach second grade at Fern Bluff Elementary in Round Rock. I would be interested in your research. I love to teach reading and strive to help my students comprehend well.

3.  Velma Afanador-Perez said on June 24, 2010

Great news. I have been in a bilingual special education resource class and now a first grade bilingual class. I have many theories on what works. Please let me know if I can help.

4.  Dennis Fagan said on June 26, 2010

There are several of us, actually hundreds, who have been volunteering at Zavala Elementary in Austin for years and we would love to have some of this energy and focus on our kids. Is there any way we can participate?

5.  Maria R. Gonzales said on June 28, 2010

Interesting---I am gathering information on how the brain takes on a new spin when it comes to pre-reading skills. I have taught in the Texas Public School System for over 18 + years. I have taught in several school districts in Texas. I am working on helping students at the university level prepare for their State (TExES Exams) as the College of Education-TExES Coordinator. I have developed many strategies throughout my educational journey to help students in the following grade levels: Pre-k-12. I also taught grades 6-12. If you need any of my research please feel free to contact me.

6.  Greg said on July 6, 2010

$20 million? Teaching reading should require so much? Native language literacy = transferable literacy to the second language. Educators, linguists and psychologists determined this 40 years ago. $20 million sounds like it would buy a lot of biased research.