Research News

$2.5M grant funds research on link between math and reading
A study designed to identify the role that language comprehension plays in math problem solving and reading comprehension will continue its work thanks to a four-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Lead investigators are: Lynn Fuchs, Dunn Family Professor in Psychoeducational Assessment; Douglas Fuchs, Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development; and Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez, associate professor of literacy instruction.

Loan aversion affected by race, gender, more
Prospective college students are less willing to take out loans to pay for their education than previously documented, and the degree to which people eschew borrowing may be affected by multiple factors, according to research by Assistant Professors of Public Policy and Higher Education Angela Boatman, Brent Evans and Adela Soliz. Hispanic respondents were more likely to exhibit loan aversion than white respondents, and men were more loan-averse than women in their study, published by AERA Open. In a second study, they found that people either with low levels of financial literacy or who have used payday lending were far less willing to borrow to pay for college. Higher financial literacy and greater knowledge of federal student loans were related to lower loan aversion for education by as much as 30 to 50 percent in some samples. Results were published by The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

App will help students with behavior problems
K–12 schools in districts in Nashville and Iowa will soon benefit from an iPad app designed to help students modify their own problem behavior. MoBeGo (Monitoring Behavior on the Go) will help students who have challenging behaviors to self-monitor and will provide critical support to teachers working with them. Ted Hasselbring, professor of special education, emeritus, and Joe Wehby, associate professor of special education and department chair, are collaborating with University of Iowa Professor Allison Bruhn, PhD’11, to develop this app. The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences funded the three-year, nearly $1.2 million study.

Researchers help revise juvenile drug treatment courts guidelines
Juvenile drug treatment courts have a new set of evidence-based, treatment-oriented guidelines, thanks to Research Professor Mark Lipsey and Associate Research Professor Emily Tanner-Smith. The project was a partnership of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the American Institutes of Research, which assembled a national team of experts to evaluate the existing literature and protocols for juvenile drug treatment courts in hopes of better outcomes for young offenders.

TN principal exam gets failing grade
Tennessee’s principal licensure exam is a poor predictor of effective leadership, and raising the cut score required for licensure could be counterproductive to diversity efforts, according to a new study by Jason Grissom, associate professor of public policy and education. Tennessee is among 18 U.S. states and territories that rely on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment when licensing principals. He found little evidence that SLLA scores predict how a principal will perform in the job and may represent a roadblock for candidates of color. His research was conducted through the Tennessee Education Research Alliance with Richard Blissett, a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy studies. Results were published by Education and Evaluation Policy Analysis.

Cognitive behavioral therapy improves symptoms of IBS sufferers
Building on prior findings that psychotherapy is as effective as medications in reducing the severity of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, a new study finds that cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly effective. CBT is a psychological approach that helps people develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving with the goal of reducing psychological and resulting physiological distress. Emily Tanner-Smith, research associate professor at Peabody Research Institute, is co-author. Results were published by Clinical Psychology Review.

Teacher turnover rates critical in Tennessee turnaround efforts
Achievement School District and iZone schools recruited more highly effective teachers compared to other priority and nonpriority schools in Tennessee, according to a new report by Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education Gary Henry and colleagues at Peabody’s Tennessee Education Research Alliance. The study was a partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Ron Zimmer. Compared to other types of turnaround schools, iZone schools have excelled in recruiting highly effective teachers as well as retaining them and developing teachers to higher levels of effectiveness.

Teachers’ job satisfaction linked to evaluations; performance pay has merit
Tennessee teachers who received higher performance ratings from the state’s evaluation model reported significantly higher job satisfaction than those who received lower marks, according to a new study by Associate Professor of Public Policy Matthew G. Springer and colleagues at the Tennessee Education Research Alliance. The findings offer the first causal evidence on the relationship between performance ratings and job satisfaction for individual teachers. Results were published by American Educational Research Journal. In another study, Springer found that performance pay for teachers is having a positive effect on student outcomes. The study is a collaboration with doctoral students Lam D. Pham and Tuan D. Nguyen.

Online graduate-degree programs for educators start this fall
Peabody will offer new online degree programs for education professionals through Peabody Online, a partnership with 2U, this fall. Two programs will be offered initially: an online master of education (M.Ed.) in school counseling and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) in leadership and learning in organizations. Both degree offerings are slated to go live in September 2017. They will feature live, engaging, interactive course content delivered by Peabody faculty in face-to-face online classes in an intimate seminar-style setting. Students also will participate in traditional, in-person learning through internships, practicums and on-campus immersion experiences. The online M.Ed. program will prepare students to acquire licensure for school counseling in public or private p-12 settings. The Ed.D. is designed for experienced midcareer professionals and organizational leaders who want to bring about organizational change in academia, government or the private sector. 2U has similar partnerships with University of Southern California, New York University, Syracuse University, George Washington University and others.

Pre-K needs proper implementation and evaluation to succeed
High-quality state- and district-run prekindergarten programs should be supported as long as they are implemented properly and evaluated with rigor, according to a new pre-K consensus report penned by Research Professor Mark Lipsey. He presented the report as part of a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., in April.

New system will guide behavior analysis in the classroom
Blair Lloyd, assistant professor of special education, has received a $400,000 early career grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to develop a tool to help teachers better understand what’s causing problem behaviors in elementary school students who have disabilities. The tool also will help them choose the appropriate individualized interventions. Lloyd also will develop a training manual for educators, followed by a pilot study to evaluate the effects of the final framework on student outcomes.

Learn more at Vanderbilt’s research page.