Our Research

In July 2017, researchers at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin were awarded a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences. Principal investigator is Dr. Sharon Vaughn, and co-principal investigators are Christy Murray and Dr. Elizabeth Stevens.

As of September 2020, our research study has concluded, and we are in the process of analyzing data. Findings will be reported as they become available.


Stevens, E. A., & Austin, C. (2020). Structured reading comprehension intervention. In L. Spear-Swerling (Ed.), Structured Literacy Interventions for Children with Reading Difficulties (pp. XX-XX). Guilford Press. [Book chapter submitted for publication]. 

Stevens, E. A., Murray, C. S., Fishstrom, S., & Vaughn, S. (2020). Using question generation to improve reading comprehension for middle grade students. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (pp. XX-XX). [Article submitted for publication].

Stevens, E. A. & Vaughn, S. (in press) Using paraphrasing and text structure instruction to support main idea generation. Teaching Exceptional Children.

Stevens, E. A., & Vaughn, S. (2020). Effective practices for teaching content area reading. In Oxford research encyclopedia of education (pp. 1–28). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.1209

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this 4-year project is to develop, refine, and pilot a PD model (see Figure 1) optimized for achieving sustainable teacher improvement and positive student outcomes in middle school. The PD model will facilitate middle school educators’ implementation of research-based reading practices across the content areas of English language arts, science, and social studies. The end purpose is to produce effective middle school teachers and leaders who skillfully implement proven practices for enhancing reading comprehension, producing academic gains for students in secondary school and achieving readiness for college and career.

Figure 1. Middle School Matters Professional Development Model

Study Procedures

Building upon the existing work of the Middle School Matters Institute (an education intiative of the George W. Bush Institute), researchers iteratively developed and refined a PD model that could be used campuswide in middle schools. Teachers provided feedback on the model via a series of questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews. In year 3 (2019 – 2020), the model was piloted over an entire school year with six middle schools (three treatment, three business as usual) in English language arts, science, and social studies classrooms.

Students’ growth in reading comprehension and change in student risk factors associated with school dropout will be assessed by using a researcher-developed strategy use measure, Gates-MacGinitie Reading Comprehension Test, and by collecting early warning indicator data (student attendance, behavior, and coursework grades).


Coming Soon!