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Funded Research Portfolio

Principal Investigator: Amy Lederberg

Literacy outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) have historically fallen behind those of their hearing peers. Researchers at Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development intend to address this problem through a $10 million grant to create the first national research center aimed at dramatically improving DHH children’s reading. This competitive grant from the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will fund research leading to a better understanding of the how DHH students learn. This will in turn lead to the development of intervention models.” The National Research and Development Center for Literacy and Deafness (CLAD) is the first of its kind to focus on deaf children. According to the Center’s Principal Investigator, Professor Amy Lederberg, “this research will help create effective, evidence-based interventions that will have far reaching effects.”  Co-Principal Investigator, Professor Susan Easterbrooks, explains that “we want to identify child and instructional factors that affect reading growth and develop individualized interventions tailored for DHH struggling readers.” Co-investigators from GSU include Dr. Lee Branum-Martin, Dr. Mi-Young Webb, and Dr. Paul Alberto. CLAD boasts a strong collaboration with researchers around the nation. Collaborative partners/co-investigators are Dr. Shirin Antia, from the University of Arizona; Dr. Brenda Schick, from the University of Colorado at Boulder; Dr. Carol Connor from Arizona State University; and Dr. Poorna Kushalnagar from the Rochester Institute of Technology.  For more information on NCSER and the IES National Special Education Research and Development Centers, visit

Principal Investigator: Daphne Greenberg

This center, funded by IES,  has two major goals: (1) to conduct research on the underlying cognitive and motivational processes that contribute to or impede the reading development of struggling adult readers, and (2) to develop and evaluate a multiple component intervention framework to address their literacy learning needs. Reading comprehension, as the goal of reading, is the ultimate focus of this Center grant. To comprehend text successfully, a reader relies on integration and management of many rapidly executed skills and strategies. We will target those with the strongest evidence base: phonological awareness, morphological knowledge, decoding, orthographic/irregular word reading, vocabulary, fluency, background/general knowledge, text structure knowledge, reasoning skills, and memory retrieval ability. The participants in our work will be adults who read between the 3rd and 8th grade equivalency levels. Our five years of work include three phases, each guided by specific research questions. The first phase focuses on measuring individual differences in cognitive and motivational functioning; the second phase focuses on instructional design within an iterative development framework and feasibility studies; and the third phase focuses on conducting pilot intervention studies. Among the unique contributions of our Center will be: (i) a comprehensive approach to assessment that weds cognitive assessment with evaluation of motivational needs and attributions about literacy learning; (ii) attention to the adequacy of measurement instruments for this population; (iii) an assessment and intervention approach and theory of change motivated by a detailed theory of reading; (iv) an instructional framework adapted from an intervention developed and evaluated with 800+ adolescents reading at the same levels as ABE adult learners; (v) development of an intervention with different modules to allow tailoring to differing instructional needs in decoding and word identification, reading fluency, vocabulary, text analysis and reading comprehension; (vi) adoption of a web-based instructional adjunct to facilitate increased  engagement by adult learners and greater reading experience inside and outside the classroom; (vii) design of web-based tutoring to individualize instruction and promote deeper levels of comprehension by learners; and (viii) feasibility and pilot intervention studies using different authentic adult literacy sites in the US and Canada. With the added demands for digital literacy skills, the burden of low adult literacy will only escalate. It is critical that we better understand the processes impeding the literacy learning of struggling adult readers and develop and test effective interventions capable of addressing their complex learning needs.

Principal Investigators: Julie Washington and Nicole Patton-Terry

Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, this project seeks to advance our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying reading difficulty in African-American (AA) children, allowing us to distinguish AA children who exhibit a learning or reading disability from those whose reading difficulties arise from other sources (e.g., environment). The proposed studies are designed to investigate mechanisms by which AA children experience reading difficulty that may or may not be due to RD, by using complementary methods to build and evaluate models of typical and atypical reading development among AA children in 1st-5th grades. The specific aims are: Specific Aim 1: To examine the contribution of general verbal ability, dialectal variation, cognitive abilities and poverty to RD, we will investigate a cross-sequential, longitudinal sample of AA children from low and middle SES backgrounds with a range of reading abilities in grades 1-5. We will build a multilevel, mixed-effects (HLM) model of reading development in AA children designed to evaluate the relative contributions of these variables to reading development. Specific Aim 2: To distinguish RD children with underlying LD from those whose RD owes to other factors, we will conduct novel analyses of the sample from Aim 1. We will use latent class modeling to improve our ability to identify children who have RD and to distinguish them from peers who may have reading difficulties not characteristic of RD. Specific Aim 3: To explore the causal effects of general verbal ability and spoken dialect on essential components of reading acquisition. We will use computational modeling and controlled experimental las from peers who may have reading difficulties not characteristic of RD. Specific Aim 3: To explore the causal effects of general verbal ability and spoken dialect on essential components of reading acquisition. We will use computational modeling and controlled experimental tasks to test several hypotheses.

Principal Investigator: Joel Meyers

Funded through a subcontract from Emory University and the CDC, the purpose of this research is to evaluate the efficacy of preventive interventions designed to promote coping skills for elementary school and middle school students to prevent bullying and its negative effects. There has been limited experimental or quasi-experimental research investigating preventive interventions that address bullying. This is true for universal interventions targeting all school children (Hahn, Fuqua-Whitley, et al., 2007; Wilson & Lipsey, 2007), as well as selective interventions for victims of bullying (Leff, 2007; Varjas, Meyers, Henrich et al., 2006). The two primary focal points of this research are: (1) investigate a selective intervention to prevent negative outcomes in victims of bullying; and (2) investigate a universal primary prevention intervention applied to all children to prevent bullying and its negative effects. The research concerning selective intervention (victim support group) will be investigated in Study I and will help to develop the universal primary prevention intervention (universal intervention) to prevent bullying investigated in Study II.

Our prior pre/post-test pilot work with a victim support group (i.e., selective intervention) has indicated promising effects on the mental health and well being of victims (Varjas, Meyers, Henrich, et al., 2006; Varjas, Meyers, Meyers, Kim, Henrich, & Subbiah, in press). One purpose of Study I is to test the efficacy of this intervention with a rigorous research design and determine whether effects are sustained for one year. A second purpose of Study I is to provide data concerning the process and outcome of the victim support group that will be used to develop, implement and experimentally evaluate a universal intervention designed to prevent bullying and its negative effects for all children within a classroom with a particular focus on those who are bystanders. This universal primary prevention intervention will be investigated in Study II.

Project Investigator: Sue Duncan
Partnership between GSU and The Ohio State University

Georgia State University's Reading Recovery Training Center in the College of Education & Human Development will receive $3.6 million over the next five years to improve literacy skills among struggling first graders in underperforming schools. Georgia State is one of 15 partners with The Ohio State University that was awarded a portion of a $54 million "Investing in Innovation" federal grant, announced by the U.S. Department of Education in late September. The five-year project will focus on improving literacy among struggling first-grade students in underperforming schools, rural schools or those with high populations of English Language Learners. The grant will support training an additional 250 teachers at Georgia State, as well as 3,750 teachers nationwide.

Project Investigator:  Diane Truscott

The project entitled, Teaching Teachers Together: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Success (3-STEMS) builds on our current partnership with Atlanta Public Schools and the Urban Accelerated Certification and Master’s Program (UACM).  The primary goal of the 3-STEMS project is to increase the number of highly qualified teachers committed to high-need urban schools.  Project objectives and activities focus on four areas:  1) recruitment and selection; 2) teacher training and certification and endorsement; 3) focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects; and 4) support for new teachers in using data-based decision-making.  In addition to certification in PreK-5, participants will receive an ESOL endorsement during the certification year and a Masters degree in year 2.  Participants for certification and endorsements include recent college graduates and mid-career professionals.   Project activities include the development of a Professional Learning Site in conjunction with Atlanta Public Schools at one of the partner schools with which we work.  This site will serve as a hub for certification and professional learning activities including certification-oriented courses delivered at the school, extensive immersion experiences for TTT interns, STEM demonstration lessons for teachers, and mentorship and coaching for participants. In addition, over the summer, the project will design and implement specialized summer programs for children and teachers in the STEM field.  Two summer camps will operate: one focusing on math and science and the other on literacy and technology.  Teachers will also be offered opportunities to use technology in new ways through summer tutoring and the Supportive Technology for the Education of Literacy Learners and Reading (STELLAR) program which is a series of videos about instructional literacy practices (e.g., word work, guided reading, etc.) that teachers watch at home and then participate in Cross-Career Learning Communities.  Finally, the project will focus on using data continuously to support teachers in how to use data to inform their practices and improve the project.  The use of classroom-based teacher action research and problem-solution projects are ways to help educators select authentic issues presented in the classroom and community and use data as a means to make change.  School-collaboration mini-grants will offer support for Atlanta teacher-faculty teams in designing and implementing curricular innovations targeted to STEM and that use data to inform practice.  By the end of the project, 3-STEMS will impact 10,125 students and produced 135 newly certified teachers. The project also provides professional learning in STEM for classroom teachers and through our teacher mentor component resulting in support for 405 inservice practitioners. 

Project Investigator:  Diane Truscott (ECEE)

The QuIEL project provides school-based professional development targeting instruction for English Learners (EL) in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Four members represent the QuIEL Professional Learning Consortium: the Urban Accelerated Certification and Master’s Program from Georgia State University’s Early Childhood and Elementary Education Department (Institute of Higher Education Partner); DeKalb County School System (Local Education Agency Member); Refugee Resettlement and Immigrations Services of Atlanta (Community Member); and Educational Testing Service (Corporate Member). Activities to prepare and support teachers include the development of a professional learning site which offers site-based certification courses, extensive immersion experiences, demonstration lessons, and mentorship/coaching. To improve instructional practices, policies and student outcomes, data-based decision-making activities target the use of teacher action research, problem-solution projects, school collaboration mini-grants (STEM focused), and portfolios. STEM activities include summer workshops, summer camps (Science, Literacy/Technology), a new math anchoring curriculum, technology for EL instruction (STELLAR, Language Muse), and online professional learning communities. QuIEL builds in mechanisms to sustain learning that feature four professional learning standards: authentic contexts, active learning, prolonged engagement/time, and collaboration.

Project Investigator: Gwendolyn Benson

The NET-Q: Network for Enhancing Teaching Quality program submitted for the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant (TQP) competition from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement addresses the following priorities: (1) improving student achievement, (2) improving the quality of prospective and new teachers, (3) holding teacher preparation programs accountable for preparing and collaborating with high needs districts/schools to produce high quality teachers, and (4) recruiting and retaining highly qualified individuals (including those from less-represented groups and individuals from other occupations) with particular emphasis on high needs/critical shortage areas. The program’s emphases will include initiatives such as the following: Teachers in Residency, Leaders in Residency, Induction, Cross Career Learning Communities (for new and veteran teacher support and retention), Teacher-Intern-Professor (TIP) Model, First-tier Collaborative Action Research/Inquiry (university-school teams), Second-tier Competitive Research Fellowship Mini-Grants, and Georgia Public Broadcasting Digital Partnership Collaboratives, etc. Within these initiatives, the grant will support teacher learning about the following areas: special education, English language learners, (ELL), literacy, science, mathematics, and related content areas.

The project includes participation by 6 metropolitan Atlanta school districts, 19 rural districts, 3 four-year institutions (including two Historically Black Universities) and 1 two-year institution. Mutual commitment to preparing quality teachers is evident from the on-going collaboration with six metro area school districts through our Professional Development School (PDS) Network. The P-12 partners are equally committed to increasing the recruitment and support of prospective teachers in STEM areas, Special Education and English Language Learners, to meet the needs of urban schools in the Metro Atlanta area and to assist our partners in rural high needs districts.

Principal Investigator: Nicole Patton Terry

In 2005, the Southeast Regional Center for Get Ready to Read! was established in Atlanta, Georgia through a partnership between the National Center for Learning Disabilities and Smart Start, the early education arm of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. The Center's mission is to assure that young children in Georgia and the southeastern region of the United States enter kindergarten with the language and literacy skills they need to be ready to benefit from quality literacy instruction. Dr. Terry contributes to the success of the program by evaluating program effectiveness, providing professional development throughout the metropolitan area, and assisting the Center in implementing the program in schools and programs throughout the state. This project is sponsored by The United Way Metropolitan Atlanta, Smart Start and the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) through funding from The Goizueta Foundation.

Principal Investigator: David Houchins

Project LIBERATE is a $2.94 million four year study. Funding is provided by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The primary purpose of Project LIBERATE is to determine the comparative effectiveness of three literacy instructional packages (two treatments and one control group) on the reading, writing, and spelling performance of incarcerated struggling readers with and without disabilities. Student motivational and teacher implementation factors also will be considered. Much has been learned in recent years about how to teach literacy skills at the elementary school level yet little is known about how to teach literacy at the secondary level, particularly to struggling readers who are on the fringe of society. Estimates suggest that up to 45% of the incarcerated students in Georgia have disabilities. No data are available regarding comprehensive literacy instruction for these students.