National Center on Instruction in Special Education created with $3 million federal grant

AUSTIN, Texas—A Center on Instruction in Special Education will be created by The University of Texas at Austin’s Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Using the five-year grant, the newly formed center will help educators around the nation bridge the research-to-practice gap for students with disabilities. Both the Vaughn Gross Center and the Center on Instruction in Special Education are part of the College of Education.

“A substantial body of quality research is out there,” said Dr. Greg Roberts, Vaughn Gross Center researcher and director of the new center, “but only a small fraction of students actually reap the benefits of it. We will be building the knowledge base of educators, making it possible for them to deliver highly effective instructional services to students with disabilities.”

The new center is one of five “nodes” created in a $6 million federal grant. Each node, at different research institutions around the nation, will be responsible for transforming scientific research into usable materials and information for teachers and school administrators. A network of 16 regional centers from coast to coast will then deliver the instructional resources to educators.

Kindergarten through high school students who have a variety of disabilities (including blindness, health impairments, learning disabilities and emotional disorders) will benefit from the center’s research, technical assistance and resources. Special emphasis will be placed on helping elementary and middle school level literacy and math teachers transform the latest scientific research into everyday instruction.

“Identifying students who are in need of additional instructional services and then ensuring that they have access to the best content and instructional practices will be central to our work,” said Roberts. “To accommodate the language and cultural diversity that’s a reality in most school districts, we will be collaborating with the English Language Learners Center in Houston and Florida State University’s Center for Reading Research.”

The Center on Instruction in Special Education received the largest share of the federal grant total, Roberts said, because its subject area overlaps the subject areas of the other four centers, and it will be working closely with them to adapt instruction for students with disabilities.

The other four centers are the Center on Instruction in Reading at Florida State University, the Center on Instruction in Science at RMC Research Corporation, the Center on Instruction in Math at RG Associates and the Center on Instruction for English Language Learners at the University of Houston.

For more information contact: Matthew Slater, Vaughn Gross Center, 512-232-6028, or Kay Randall, Office of Public Affairs, 512-232-3910.