KU Center for Research on Learning

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KU-CRL News Archive

New research from KUCRL’s Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LAWRENCE — For years Medicaid recipients were forced to live in poverty or near poverty to maintain their eligibility for the program. University of Kansas researchers have authored a study showing that when asset caps are lifted — a key provision of the Affordable Care Act —  for adults with disabilities, their health outcomes and quality of life improve.

The authors surveyed more than 440 competitively employed adults with disabilities in Kansas. The state has a Medicaid Buy-In program, which allows them to accumulate assets in excess of the standard $2,000 cap. Respondents who had accumulated more than $2,000 in cash assets reported significantly higher quality of life and better physical and mental health.

The study was authored by Jean Hall, director of the Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies in KU’s Center for Research on Learning; Noelle Kurth, senior research assistant at the Center for Research on Learning; Ellen Averett of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the KU Medical Center; and Allen Jensen of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University. The researchers presented their findings this month at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Boston.

Survey respondents reported that being able to accumulate more cash assets improved their quality of life in numerous ways. It allowed them to keep their jobs when paying for unexpected expenses such as car repairs, and those with seasonal employment were able to rely on savings when they were out of work. Others reported it improved their health outcomes by helping them afford all medications they were prescribed.

Those taking the survey had a range of disabilities including mental illness and physical disabilities, and had not accumulated assets of more than $15,000.

“The effect was not associated with income,” Hall said of the higher quality of life and better health found in respondents. “It was found for individuals who had accumulated assets and was not necessarily those with higher incomes.”

The researchers found that individuals with intellectual disabilities, those under the age of 30 and men were more likely to have accumulated assets of more than $2,000. They hope to examine why those trends appeared in future research.

Not only do the findings suggest that lifting asset caps can lead to better health and quality of life, but it can help reduce dependence on government assistance. The Affordable Care Act considers individuals’ income levels but not assets in determining eligibility for Medicaid expansion coverage.

“We’re hypothesizing, and the data seems to support this, that allowing more asset accumulation is another way that people can become healthier and have more stability,” Kurth said.

Researchers measured respondents’ quality of life using the World Health Organization’s Quality of Life Instrument and SF-12, a standardized, normed scale widely used to measure physical and mental health.

While the findings show that lifting asset caps and Medicaid expansion are helpful to individuals with disabilities, they hope to continue studying how the Affordable Care Act affects their health care.

“The expansion is allowing people with disabilities a real opportunity to accumulate assets in a way that they haven’t been able to in the past and that’s showing a positive outcome on health,” Hall said. “We also want to see what happens to people with disabilities as the marketplace goes live and see if those programs meet their needs.”

—KU News Service

Teaching Cause and Effect

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Teaching Cause and Effect cover

Help your students analyze cause-and-effect relationships with the newest instructional tool from the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.

Teaching Cause and Effect, the newest manual in the Strategic Instruction Model™ Content Enhancement Series, is available as an iBook in the iTunes store.

This book is built around a short set of instructional steps that can be used to promote higher-order thinking in any subject. It consists of four chapters:

  1. an introduction
  2. an overview of the Cause-and-Effect Guide graphic organizer
  3. an explanation of instructional procedures
  4. suggestions for extending student learning

Throughout the book, short video clips enable you to watch demonstrations of each step.

At this time, Teaching Cause and Effect is compatible only with iPads.



Cynthia Lane presents Inspiring Excellence

Friday, May 03, 2013

On April 10, 2013, Dr. Cynthia Lane presented “Inspiring Excellence” at the Leadership for Learning Symposium, sponsored by the KU Center for Research on Learning and KU Department of Special Education.

Dr. Cynthia Lane
Superintendent of Schools
Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City, Kansas

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cynthia Lane from KU-CRL on Vimeo.

Empowering Success for ALL Students: A CRL Learns Event

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Daniel Yoo

Daniel Jhin Yoo was a former special educator and administrator who started Goalbook to provide to educators better tools and resources to educate all students, especially students with special needs who require a greater amount of teamwork and collaboration, individualized progress monitoring, and innovative teaching methods that differentiate and improve access. Daniel will reflect on the experiences that caused him to start Goalbook, demonstrate the technologies Goalbook has developed, and share case studies of their impact as well as new learning and challenges encountered in the year and half since the company’s founding.

Join us for this CRL Learns event at 9:30 a.m. March 19, Room 247 Joseph R. Pearson Hall.

About Goalbook

Goalbook creates a living, breathing profile for students with special needs, providing an easy-to-access IEP summary and empowering all team members with a forum to communicate and share student data securely and in real-time. Schools that use Goalbook report having more efficient IEP meetings, improved communication, reduced paperwork, and significantly higher compliance rates.

In January 2013, the company launched the Goalbook Toolkit, a professional learning resource for general and special educators. The Toolkit puts critical information at educators’ fingertips to ensure that all students can access and achieve the high expectations of Common Core State Standards. The Toolkit unpacks each Common Core standard into concrete and measurable learning goals and provides Universal Design for Learning strategies (UDL) to improve access for all students, especially those that have learning differences or are English language learners. 

Goalbook is a New Schools Venture Fund portfolio company with investments from Rethink Education, Ed-Mentor, Patient Capital Collaborative, and investors such as Wireless Generation co-founder Greg Gunn.

About Daniel Jhin Yoo

Daniel Jhin Yoo is the founder of Goalbook, a startup company developing innovative technology and resources for special education teachers and administrators. Daniel spent five years as a special education teacher and coordinator in the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, Calif.

After completing the Kauffman Education Ventures program, Daniel joined the inaugural class of Imagine K12 in July 2011, where he started Goalbook. He previously worked as a software developer at Oracle and Google. Daniel graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science. He has been a speaker and panelist at education and technology conferences, including ISTE, SXSWedu, TASH, and TechCrunch Disrupt.

Policy brief examines pre-existing condition component of Affordable Care Act

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Commonwealth Fund has released a policy brief written by KUCRL’s Jean Hall, director of the Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies, and Janice Moore that examines the effectiveness of insurance pools designed to cover individuals who have been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Their brief, Realizing Health Reform’s Potential—The Affordable Care Act’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan: Enrollment, Costs, and Lessons for Reform, concludes that although such pools have been effective temporary measures, they are not feasible long-term solutions.

When the Affordable Care Act was passed, one of the very first provisions to take effect was the establishment of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, known as PCIP, which provides coverage to uninsured individuals until exchanges are established in 2014 and individuals cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The policy brief compares the PCIP to state high-risk pools that existed before passage of the Affordable Care Act.

“Whatever happens with the Affordable Care Act, one of the most common proposals from those opposed to it is ‘let’s just focus on helping these folks through high-risk pools,’” Hall said. “It’s too expensive to run that way. You just can’t segregate your sick and healthy populations. The whole purpose of insurance is to pool risk so it’s cheaper for everyone.”

Both PCIP, which has been in operation for nearly two years, and state high-risk pools operate at a loss by definition, Hall and Moore wrote. In both cases, insurers collect less in premiums than they pay in claims, requiring a large direct subsidy to keep the programs operational. When insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on health history, federal subsidies will then be available to help pay for coverage for low-income individuals, broadening the pool and thereby lowering total costs

“Using high-risk pools as an alternative to the insurance market reforms and subsidies in the Affordable Care Act to cover the substantial remaining uninsured population with pre-existing conditions would be extremely expensive and likely unsustainable,” Hall and Moore wrote. “In 2014, risk will be broadly pooled in both the expanded Medicaid program for individuals with incomes below 133 percent of poverty ($30,657 for a family of four) and in the state insurance exchanges that will include people with and without health problems.”

Costs for hospitals, doctors and other health providers, insurers and individuals all continually increase when the uninsured seek medical care for which they are not covered. By the same token, many people who need coverage cannot afford to enroll in high-risk pools because of the pools’ high premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Hall argues that, due to that unaffordability, placing everyone in a single pool would be more effective. Individuals have been denied coverage for numerous reasons, for everything from high blood pressure, body mass index and hereditary diseases to conditions such as cancer. Nearly one in four Americans have a condition that makes them uninsurable in the commercial market.

“Given the general lack of affordability of high-risk pool coverage at the individual level and the high costs of plan operation, the potential of high-risk pools as a vehicle for coverage expansion remains quite limited,” Hall and Moore wrote. “In short, the only way to make insurance affordable for everyone is to make sure that everyone has insurance.”

The Commonwealth Fund will distribute the policy brief to policy makers and those working in health care throughout the country. Its purpose is to provide information, background and to help guide decisions in health care at federal and state levels.

New tool to help educators identify accessible online products

Thursday, August 02, 2012

KUCRL’s Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities has developed a new tool to help schools and others involved in education identify online products that are accessible for students with disabilities.

The tool, Access for All Students: A Representative Sampling of Technologies Employed in K-12 Online Education, lists products that are frequently used in schools and identifies those for which accessibility information is readily available.

“Students with disabilities have the right to access the same online environments as their peers,” said Diana Greer, KU assistant research professor and co-principal investigator for the project. “Retrofitting these environments for accessibility is costly and sometimes impossible, so online environments should be purchased with accessibility in mind.”

One way educators can determine whether an online tool is accessible is through a document called a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, which is a standardized form companies can complete to provide information about their products’ compliance with Section 508 accessibility requirements for federal government technology acquisitions.

The new web-based offering from the Center can make finding a product’s VPAT easier. The Access for All Students tool is an at-a-glance reference to determine whether a company has made a VPAT or accessibility information available online. The Center’s researchers reviewed company websites to compile links to VPATs as well as accessibility information. When they could not find a VPAT or accessibility information on a site, they contacted the company to inquire about the availability of the information.

The result is a table listing companies whose products are used in schools, with each product categorized in one of three ways: (1) products that have posted VPATs on their websites, (2) products that have made accessibility information available but do not have VPATs, or (3) products that do not have VPATs or list accessibility information on their websites. The researchers contacted each company listed to confirm their correct categorization.

School administrators, teachers, parents, and others who purchase products for schools can use this table to compare and contrast availability of accessibility information for various online environments and curriculum resources. Skip Stahl, a policy analyst with CAST and Center co-director, notes that “schools need to attend to the civil rights mandates that digital materials and delivery systems need to provide equitable access for all students, including those with physical and sensory disabilities.”

The Access for All Students table and its associated white paper are the first of many tools the Center plans to develop and offer for free on its website as part of its goal to explore whether online learning is working for students with disabilities.

The Center is a partnership of researchers at KU’s Center for Research on Learning, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and CAST (formerly the Center for Applied Special Technology). It is funded by a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study online learning for students with disabilities and to develop new methods of using technology to improve learning.

Two former KUCRL doctoral fellows honored

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field

Michael Faggella-LubyMichael Faggella-Luby, who received his doctoral degree in special education from the University of Kansas, is the recipient of the 2012 Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field from the Alliance for Catholic Education’s ACE Advocates for Catholic Schools at the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Faggella-Luby is associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He also is associate research scholar in UConn’s Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability and research scientist in its Center for Behavioral Education and Research. 

Dr. Faggella-Luby received the 2006 Outstanding Researcher Award from the Council for Learning Disabilities and the 2007 Annual Dissertation Award from the Council for Exceptional Children Division of Learning Disabilities. He also was the recipient of the 2009 Neag School of Education Early Career Scholar Award at UConn.

In an announcement from ACE about the award, Dr. Faggella-Luby said, “I am honored to receive this award named after Mike [Pressley]. His scholarship has set the standard for our field, especially in the area of reading, our shared passion.”

Michael Pressley was a key consultant for the Center for Research on Learning before his death from cancer in 2006. He was a member of the Notre Dame psychology faculty and was well known for his work on balanced literacy instruction, reading strategies for comprehension, and text analysis. Pressley Award recipients reflect his dedication to service and scholarship for the benefit of children and Catholic schools across the nation.

More about the Pressley Awards.

2012-2013 Jeanne S. Chall Research Grant

Carrie MarkCarrie Mark, a research associate in KU’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, has received a 2012-2013 Jeanne S. Chall Research Grant from Harvard University to conduct research related to defining treatment intensity in reading intervention.

The grant provides a stipend for scholars to conduct research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education using the Jeanne S. Chall Collection on the Teaching of Reading in the Monroe C. Gutman Library’s Special Collections Department.

Dr. Mark will analyze both past and present research, drawing on the extensive collection of reading resources at the Gutman Library, including ground-breaking work related to instruction for individuals with reading disabilities.

As a result of her research, Dr. Mark expects to develop a model of treatment intensity that is grounded in and informed by the research of Jeanne Chall and her contemporaries.

In her grant proposal, Dr. Mark wrote, “While we have made strides in identifying effective practices to treat reading disabilities, we still do not know how to intensify treatment in order to achieve desired results. Until treatment intensity is defined and used consistently by researchers and practitioners, we will struggle to design and implement meaningful reading intervention models.”

Dr. Mark’s work will be distributed to teachers in college and university preparation programs as well as those in the field through the websites of the National Center on Response to Intervention; the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education; and the National Staff Development Council.

Jeanne Chall, founder of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s literacy laboratory, was a leading expert in reading research and instruction for more than 50 years. She was a psychologist and professor in the school from 1966 until her retirement in 1991. She died in 1999.



2012 KUCRL Award Recipients

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Each year, the Center for Research on Learning recognizes outstanding teachers, administrators, professional developers and partners who have inspired us with their achievements. Last week, in conjunction with the 25th International SIM Conference, we honored recipients of the SIM Leadership Award and the Gordon R. Alley Partnership Award.

SIM Leadership Award

SIM Leadership Award recipients
Ann Hoffman, Diane Gillam, Beth Lasky, and Cathy Spriggs

The SIM Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and excellent service to the Strategic Instruction Model™ by helping educators become strategic teachers and, as a result, students become strategic learners. Three individuals received the award this year: Diane Gillam, Ann Hoffman, and Beth Lasky.

Diane Gillam of Manakin Sabot, Va., has a long and impressive list of achievements, including, among other notable accomplishments, the work she’s done in the last seven years to construct a powerhouse SIM program in the state of Virginia. Supported by a series of grants, beginning in 2005, the Virginia Department of Education in partnership with the Center launched a project to build Content Literacy Continuum™ demonstration sites in all eight regions of the state. Gillam propelled individuals and schools forward as the project took root. First as a state education department official and then as project coordinator for the Center, she had the ability to foresee the deep issues the state and school divisions must address to create a successful SIM program and CLC demonstration sites.

Ann Hoffman of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been a member of the SIM International Professional Development Network since before there was a network. She and her colleague, Conn Thomas, got in on the ground floor of some of the Center’s most significant early research in what is now known as SIM Learning Strategies when they talked researchers at the Center into sharing materials as they were being developed. In exchange, Hoffman and Thomas recruited half a dozen teachers to test the materials. Since then, Hoffman’s combination of skills and infectious enthusiasm has made her an exemplary professional developer. In the three decades since her initial exposure to the Center’s research, Hoffman’s role as a leader in the network has grown as SIM has expanded to meet new challenges from the classroom to the district. She served as team leader for a CLC project in Portland and site leader for another in Virginia, helped with early work on the Xtreme Reading™ and Fusion Reading™ adolescent literacy programs, and conducted instructional coaching professional development. She has spread SIM across the 50 states and to Australia, Puerto Rico, and India.

Beth Lasky of Northridge, Calif., is a force to be reckoned with in her state, a go-getter with a vision of how schools and teachers can better serve their students if she can just get them to use SIM tools. As professor at California State University–Northridge, she prepares future teachers for the challenges they will meet in their classrooms, but she also offers SIM workshops to a broad range of educators. She works directly with teachers and schools in one of the most densely populated, highly diverse districts in the country—the Los Angeles Unified School District. Lasky has reached out to most of the educational therapists in Southern California to show them how SIM can fit into their practices, and she maintains a referral list of educational therapists who are knowledgeable about SIM for parents who request private tutoring for their children. Since her introduction to SIM, Lasky has been a strong advocate, modeling the use of Content Enhancement Routines in her college classrooms, collecting data related to its effectiveness, and helping to establish and nurture a conference, CAL-SIM, that has become vital to the success of SIM in California.

In addition to honoring the 2012 SIM Leadership Award winners, the Center recognized a past recipient who continues to inspire others through her outstanding leadership. Cathy Spriggs of Clovis, Calif., received the SIM Leadership award in 2002. Since then, she has tackled more and bigger projects, where her leadership skills and SIM expertise have made a difference for hundreds of teachers and thousands of students. She leads with grace, humor, and a deep knowledge of SIM and systems change. In the last decade, she’s witnessed the introduction of the Content Literacy Continuum and the focus on literacy as a way to contextualize SIM work; the examination of how SIM tools can support response to intervention; conversations about systems change; the introduction of lessons-based strategies; and the integration of technology and SIM in the electronic age. Through it all, she has continued to learn and lead.

Gordon R. Alley Partnership Award

Gordon R. Alley Partnership Award recipients
Irma Brasseur-Hock (left) and Mike Hock (right) with members of the Dubuque Community School District

The Gordon R. Alley Partnership Award honors the legacy of Gordon R. Alley, one of the founders of KUCRL and a master at mentoring the young and inexperienced assistant professors assembled to conduct the Center’s first research studies. Dr. Alley generously shared his expertise and time to enable others to reach their goals and taught that partnership is vital to successfully conducting large-scale research and development efforts.

The 2012 recipient of this award is the Dubuque Community School District in Iowa, which three years ago formed a partnership with the Center to study and refine Fusion Reading. Dubuque teachers and administrators have worked closely with the Center’s Fusion Reading team to fine-tune the curriculum and develop an effective professional development model adapted to the unique aspects of Fusion. Though the Center has worked closely with the district for the past three years, their relationship began nearly three decades ago, when Dubuque teachers were among the first in the country to test SIM Learning Strategies in their classrooms. Recently, Dubuque has opened its schools to other districts that want to see how Fusion works in the classroom and they’ve allowed cameras into the classrooms so the Center can capture footage of how Fusion should be taught and what good instruction is all about.


Unmistakable Success

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A University of Kansas-developed program that matches teachers with coaches to improve education is making an “unmistakable impact,” as is the new book that makes instructional coaching available to entire schools.

Jim Knight, director of the Kansas Coaching Project at KU’s Center for Research on Learning, has authored Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction. The book brings the concept of professional learning to not only teachers and their peers who are trained as coaches, but to everyone from superintendents, principals and people with a vested interest in the quality of education. It was recently named the Corwin Press 2011 Book of the Year.

“This book fulfills Corwin’s goals as a publisher: It is written by a well-respected author, amazing speaker and presenter, and active consultant; and the content is focused on both an incredibly timely yet timeless topic regarding improving teaching and instruction,” said Lisa Cuevas Shaw, executive director of Corwin Press’ editorial division.

Knight, who has been working with schools across the United States and numerous other countries to implement professional learning, said the new book gives everyone in the school ownership in improving teaching.

“One issue we’ve run into is, unless the school is organized right, coaches and teachers couldn’t reach their full potential,” Knight said.

Professional learning is the core concept of the Kansas Coaching Project. It matches teachers with coaches who are not outside consultants, but peers at the schools, to implement proven teaching strategies. Schools that have implemented the system have seen improvements in test scores and better student outcomes.

The new book outlines the process of creating a “target design team,” a concept that is being put into use in schools using professional learning.

“The people on the target design team are teachers who go out and interview every other teacher in the school and ask them, ‘How do you think we should be teaching?’” Knight said. “At the same time they’re doing that, administrators take observations throughout the school on all kinds of factors such as numbers of disruptions, challenges, opportunities and so on. Then all the data is compared and together they come up with a draft of what their target should be.”

When the draft is ready, all involved parties vote anonymously on whether they agree with its recommendations, goals and ideas.

“It’s just a simple way of involving everybody. You keep working until everyone understands, agrees with and is committed to the plan,” Knight said.

The book can be beneficial for any school interested in improving its teaching through the practice of professional learning, whether they’ve already implemented the practice or worked with Knight’s team or not. Anyone charged with the task of improving instruction at a K-12 school could benefit from the text. Individual chapters address the role of principals, superintendents and others in implementing professional learning, the value of workshops, communication skills and putting a plan in place.

“It’s, first off, about clarity in focus in schools,” Knight said of the book. “Second, it’s about seeing teachers truly as professionals who have a say in what they do. They’re not some nameless person working in a factory. They can make decisions about the educational process and how best to educate our students.”

—Mike Krings, KU News Service

Technology Rich Classrooms award winners

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ALTEC’s Technology Rich Classrooms project recognized Teacher, Facilitator, Administrator, Lesson Plan, and Video of the year during Celebration 2012 in Wichita.

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