Inside IES Research

Notes from NCER & NCSER

Integrating Social-Emotional and Literacy Learning in the Primary Grades

Teachers often have the critical and daunting task of developing behavioral and academic skills simultaneously. For students at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), this can be even more challenging. Researchers Ann Daunic and Nancy Corbett, along with co-PI Stephen Smith and other colleagues at the University of Florida, developed Social-Emotional Learning Foundations (SELF), an intervention  developed and tested for efficacy through IES funding. SELF combines instructional strategies in literacy and social-emotional self-regulation for kindergarten and first grade teachers to provide more in-depth opportunities for at-risk students to develop these skills. Recently, we spoke with the SELF creators to learn more about the needs addressed by the intervention and the early evidence for its efficacy.

What are some challenges facing early elementary students at risk for developing EBD?

Photo of Ann Daunic
Ann Daunic (AD): Children at risk for developing EBD typically have issues with self-regulation, which can lead to a variety of maladaptive behaviors and affect their social-emotional adjustment and their academic outcomes. For example, children with aggressive tendencies are often impulsive, lack appropriate decision-making skills, and may be rejected by peers.

What are some challenges facing teachers of students at risk for EBD in the area of literacy?

Photo of Nancy Corbett

Nancy Corbett (NC): We know that higher levels of behavioral self-regulation are associated with greater literacy and language skills. Children who come to kindergarten with fewer skills, either social or cognitive, may experience the classroom as a threatening place and therefore be less engaged with school at an early age. When children are disengaged at school, important early learning skills, including literacy, are more difficult to attain. Because literacy plays such a fundamental role in school success, it is critical that teachers meet the challenge of keeping children involved and motivated in this area.

How did you develop SELF to address these challenges?

AD: First, we realized that children at early risk for EBD may not benefit sufficiently from universally delivered, or Tier 1, instruction. We designed SELF to extend prior work in social-emotional and academic learning by providing small group, or Tier 2, instruction for at-risk children within the general education classroom.

Embedding social-emotional learning (SEL) within literacy instruction enables teachers to foster self-regulatory skills that are critical not only for social-emotional adjustment, but also for developing literacy. Using dialogic reading (an interactive strategy where adults and children have a dialogue around the text they are reading to enhance children’s literacy and language skills), SELF teachers can promote “emotion discourse” through interactive storybook reading, which occurs frequently in K-1 classrooms. In SELF, the teacher begins by introducing key concepts and vocabulary to the whole class. This is followed by a small group setting in which the teacher provides additional opportunities to engage the children at risk for EBD in conversations about their feelings and choices while developing listening comprehension. Children learn to identify their feelings using selected vocabulary words and they acquire strategies for regulating those feelings and related behaviors.

Why was it important to develop a social-emotional curriculum that could be implemented during literacy instruction?

NC: In addition to the fact that social-emotional growth and academic learning are inextricably connected, there is constant pressure to demonstrate continuous academic growth. As a result, it is challenging for many teachers to find time during the school day to focus on SEL. Therefore, it was not only conceptually, but also practically, sound to integrate an SEL curriculum within an academic subject taught in the primary grades. Since some children need more intensive and explicit instruction, we combined universally delivered and small group lessons to provide children at risk for EBD additional opportunities to strengthen language related to SEL and engage in social problem solving.

What have you found in the efficacy trial of SELF? 

AD: During our trial, we collected data primarily through teacher reports of children’s knowledge and behaviors related to social-emotional competence and managing emotions, as well as some direct assessments of the children’s vocabulary, language, and self-regulation. Our findings showed that compared to at-risk children in the control condition (in which students received their usual instruction and services), children who were taught SELF lessons had more positive outcomes on measures related to self-regulation, SEL vocabulary, SEL competence, and behavior (externalizing and internalizing challenges, social skills, and school adjustment). These findings suggest that SEL curricula embedded within academic areas such as literacy can be effective.

Teacher feedback about SELF’s feasibility has consistently indicated that teachers like the curriculum and think it benefits their students, particularly those who are reluctant to say much in a whole group setting. Children have more opportunities in the small group to make connections from storybook characters’ experiences and feelings to their own, and introverted children are more likely to express their thoughts and emotions. Because these children do not typically receive as much attention as children at risk for externalizing problems, the evidence that SELF was effective for them was particularly noteworthy.

What are the next steps for your research?

AD: Theoretically speaking, the discourse opportunities provided in the small-group lessons are key to making SEL instruction effective for at-risk students. Over the years, however, many teachers using SELF have expressed a desire to teach the entire curriculum in a whole class setting, reasoning that all children can benefit from the instruction. This preference could indicate either a failure to grasp the fundamental role the small-group lessons play in providing opportunities for developing receptive and expressive social-emotional language, or it could be a practical concern with adding Tier 2 SEL instruction to their already demanding schedules. Therefore, future studies might include more formal qualitative inquiry focused on implementation concerns. We also need to examine whether children from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds respond similarly to SELF lessons. Finally, we would like to examine the pathways through which this model works, such as investigating whether SELF improves SEL language development and/or self-regulation, which then leads to the overall positive behavior and academic outcomes we have observed.

Where can interested school personnel learn more about SELF?

NC: Providing access to validated instructional interventions like SELF is of primary importance to us, so we are currently finalizing a website for interested stakeholders to freely access the curriculum after completing one hour of professional development. The website includes a video overview of SELF and orientation to SEL topics, our research papers and conference presentations, and for those who have completed the PD, the instructional materials and strategies used throughout the lessons.

Ann Daunic, PhD, principal investigator for the SELF research project, is an emeritus scholar in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies in the University of Florida’s College of Education.

Nancy Corbett, PhD, co-principal investigator, is a retired faculty member in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies in the University of Florida’s College of Education.

This interview was produced and edited by Julianne Kasper, Virtual Student Federal Service Intern at IES and graduate student in Education Policy & Leadership at American University. Jacquelyn Buckley is the program officer for NCSER’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Competence portfolio.

IES-Funded Researchers Recognized with 2022 CEC Awards

At the recent 2022 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Convention and Expo, scholars were recognized for their research contributions to the field of special education. Among those honored by the CEC were several researchers funded through IES.

Photo of Kathleen Lane

Kathleen Lane, PhD, Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas and associate vice chancellor for research, was awarded the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an individual whose life’s work has been focused on improving outcomes for students with exceptionalities and the educators who serve them. Over the years, Dr. Lane has been involved in numerous projects funded by IES. She is currently serving as principal investigator (PI) on Project SCREEN, a NCSER-funded grant aimed at validating a free tool that K-12 educators can use to identify students who are at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). As part of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Network, she is the PI for a Research Team enhancing and testing the efficacy of Ci3T, an intervention that combines positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) and response to intervention (RTI) approaches to build social skills, particularly for students with or at risk for EBD. This project was an extension of a prior NCER-funded researcher-practitioner partnership with a local school district to implement and test the Ci3T model. Dr. Lane also led Project WRITE, which focused on Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD), an intervention that facilitates the teaching of writing and behavioral self-regulation techniques simultaneously. Dr. Lane’s project modified and tested SRSD for students with serious behavior challenges who struggle with writing. Dr. Lane also served as a mentor to another CEC award winner, Dr. Robin Ennis (below), on her Early Career Development and Mentoring project.

Photo of Robin Ennis

Robin Ennis, PhD, associate professor and special education program coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Education has received the 2022 Martin J. Kauffman Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the CEC’s Division for Research. This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding scientific contributions in special education research within the first 10 years following receipt of their doctoral degree. Dr. Ennis was the principal investigator of a NCSER-funded Early Career Development and Mentoring project. In this project, Dr. Ennis developed a training model designed to support third grade teachers’ implementation of a low-intensity evidence-based strategy, instructional choice, to improve the academic and behavioral outcomes of students with or at risk for emotional disturbance. Initial testing indicated that teachers who received PD implemented the intervention with high fidelity and students experienced increased engagement.

Photo of Charles "Skip" MacArthur

Charles “Skip” MacArthur, PhD, professor of special education and literacy in the School of Education at the University of Delaware, received two awards from CEC. He received the Special Education Research Award, given in recognition of an individual whose outstanding research has had an impact on practice and has improved outcomes for youth with exceptional needs. In addition, Dr. MacArthur received the Division for Learning Disabilities’ Jeannette Fleischner Career Leadership Award for his leadership in research and impact on practice, including his work on improving writing instruction and assistive technology for students with learning disabilities. Dr. MacArthur has been the PI on two NCER-funded projects: one which collaboratively designed a curriculum for postsecondary developmental writing and that demonstrated positive impacts on writing quality, writing self-efficacy, and mastery motivation in a pilot study and a second which is evaluating the efficacy of the aforementioned curriculum.

Congratulations to this year’s award recipients!

This blog was authored by Julianne Kasper (American University), IES intern through the Virtual Student Federal Service.

Career and Technical Education in STEM for Students with Learning Disabilities: Research Updates and Implications

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month® is celebrated every February to raise awareness about the role that CTE has in preparing students for college and career success and the achievements of CTE programs across the country. In recognition of this year’s CTE Month®, we caught up with Dr. Michael Gottfried, University of Pennsylvania, to discuss his CTE research.

Through NCSER’s Career and Technical Education for Students with Disabilities special topic area, Dr. Gottfried was awarded a grant to examine whether participating in STEM CTE courses in high school is related to pursuing and persisting in STEM majors and/or careers for students with learning disabilities (SWLDs), a project featured initially in a March 2020 blog. During our recent conversation, he shared updates with us about his CTE project as well as the policy and practice implications of his research.

When we discussed this project in 2020, you shared your research goals and what you had learned so far. Could you provide us with an update?

Since the last time that we chatted, we have made some great progress on this project. We have had several papers accepted for publication. In some of our work, we were interested in the STEM CTE coursetaking patterns of SWLDs in high school. We found that SWLDs are more likely to participate in CTE courses compared to students without disabilities. Yet, when looking at the specific category of STEM CTE courses, there is no evidence that SWLDs are more likely to participate in high school STEM CTE courses compared to students without disabilities.

We have also looked at specific outcomes for SWLDs in STEM CTE courses. For instance, we examined computer science STEM CTE coursetaking for SWLDs. Participation was associated with growth in STEM self-efficacy and STEM utility (usefulness of what is learned for practical application) for SWLDs, whereas it related to positive development of STEM self-efficacy and STEM identity, but not STEM utility, for students without learning disabilities.

After we discovered that little was known about the association between STEM CTE coursetaking and college STEM persistence for SWLDs, we wanted to explore this area. So far, we have found that SWLDs who earned more units of STEM CTE in high school were more likely to seriously consider and ultimately declare STEM majors in college that are related to high school STEM CTE courses, such as information technology or engineering technology.

You and your colleagues recently published a paper in Education Research based on your NCSER-funded research. Could you summarize the findings in this paper and the implications for policy and practice?  

In our paper, we set out to identify whether there were any observable changes in CTE participation over time. The unique aspect of this study was that it combined national data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 with administrative data from the state of Washington. Key findings indicated that CTE participation declined nationally between the graduating class of 2004 and the graduating class of 2009 except in the area of applied science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical/health (STEMM) CTE, which includes courses in information technology, engineering technology, and health sciences. Data from Washington tended to be less varied in nature compared to national data, with fewer discernible trends, though in general STEM CTE did appear to have an upward trend for all students.

Our work also has direct relevance to policy. Recent changes in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act emphasized the need to focus on increasing access and participation in STEM-related CTE coursework. While there does appear to be an upward trend in participation in these STEM fields, the tradeoff may be coming at the expense of other CTE areas of study. Combined with the increasing pressure for students to complete more and more academic coursework in a push for college readiness, this decrease in non-STEM CTE participation is particularly noteworthy. Finally, our work helps highlight the importance of examining CTE trends at the state and national levels. Different states have different needs and different graduation requirements that may or may not include CTE participation. As such, given the overall call to increase CTE participation for SWLDs, we encourage future research that explores the implications of these trends for this population.

What do you hope that school leaders, CTE teachers, and students will learn from all the research you are conducting?

The research has numerous implications for policy and practice. First, the results will be important for policymakers as they consider new or revised educational policies to support the pursuance and persistence of SWLDs into STEM fields. Education policymakers in particular need to understand the effects of STEM CTE coursetaking for SWLDs at multiple time points (transition into college, during college, and post-college). Understanding these issues more completely will make for well-informed policy decisions that promote short- and long-term success in STEM for SWLDs. This, in turn, has larger social policy implications with respect to upward mobility and lifelong success.

This project also has important implications for practice. By sharing these results, we hope to support education practitioners in making the adjustments necessary to improve the use of educational resources to ensure that SWLDs are prepared for and engaged in fields with high growth potential. For instance, many states have begun to accept STEM CTE courses for graduation requirements, which increases the likelihood students will take these courses. As STEM CTE courses prove important for SWLDs across the pipeline, then states and districts might consider how to best encourage students to take and succeed in these courses.

What additional research is needed to improve CTE policy and practice?

The current work can inform the future development of an intervention, assessment, or decision to evaluate an intervention. Evidence that STEM CTE coursetaking is associated with higher likelihood of college enrollment and the pursuit of STEM pathways for SWLDs supports the need to study interventions that encourage STEM CTE coursetaking for these students. For example, a randomly selected set of SWLDs who do not take traditional STEM could be counseled into taking STEM CTE courses or placement tests could be used to assign students to STEM CTE or traditional STEM courses. In both cases, students could then be followed into college and beyond to compare education and career outcomes using rigorous research designs. The results could provide additional, strong evidence for the value of STEM CTE coursetaking on postsecondary STEM outcomes.

This blog was authored by Akilah Nelson (akilah.nelson@ed.gov), Program Officer at NCSER, and Michael Gottfried (mgottfr2@upenn.edu), Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

A Work in Progress: Insights on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Education Research

For over a year, IES has been exploring how to expand participation in the education sciences and in our grant programs through a technical working group and a series of listening sessions. In recognition of Black History Month, we asked IES grantee Dr. D. Crystal Byndloss, MDRC’s director of outreach, diversity, and inclusion and senior associate, to discuss her career experiences and share advice for the field on how to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into education research. 

How have your background and experiences shaped your scholarship and career?

My research interests, especially those focused on identifying ways to support moderately and high-performing students of color from low-income backgrounds, stems from my personal experience. I was raised by a single mother, an immigrant to the United States, who enrolled me in K-12 schools where I was challenged academically and exposed to new social and cultural experiences. That foundation prepared me to enroll in a college that emphasized writing, where I developed my interest in research. In college, I was also embraced by two Black professors—a sociologist whose teaching style I wanted to emulate in the classroom and a historian who mentored me through the graduate school application process. These individuals—and my kindergarten teacher, a Black female immigrant who would go on to earn her doctorate—made it possible for me to believe that pursuing a PhD was a possibility for me.

My dissertation examined how sociopolitical context influenced two education movements: a Black and Puerto Rican community’s involvement in the movement for community control of New York City schools in the 1960s and 1970s, and a Black community’s involvement in the creation of Milwaukee’s African-American immersion schools in the 1980s. Through my research, I was able to bring new voices to the literature and spotlight how these communities of color shaped the local public education landscape. I saw great value in the research endeavor and, during a postdoctoral fellowship, decided to explore a career as a researcher. I’ve been at MDRC for 15 years, where I’ve spent the last 12 working in K-12 education research. I’ve also worked as a consultant and as an assistant dean for research and associate director of a center at a college of education.

How does your research contribute to a better understanding of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in education?

Through MDRC’s Equity Collaborative, we are incorporating stronger equity-based and culturally responsive approaches into our research and technical assistance. For example, posing impact research questions to understand where inequities exist in high school course-taking and conducting qualitative and implementation research that speaks to the contextual factors that shape or reinforce inequities through school-based policies and procedures. As part of the IES-funded Career and Technical Education Research Network (CTERN) Equity in CTE Work Group, I also have an opportunity to engage other researchers on such topics as how best to deepen the field’s understanding of issues of equity and inequity in CTE research and evaluation. As a coming attraction, keep an eye on the CTERN website where we will make available an equity framework for CTE researchers.

In your area of research, what do you see as the greatest research needs or recommendations to address diversity and equity and improve the relevance of education research for diverse communities of students and families?

I think we need to expand where we invest education research funding, a significant amount of which has been devoted to understanding what works for students from low-income backgrounds who are struggling academically. This is important work that needs to continue. We also need to expand our research inquiry to include more studies of interventions that help students from low-income communities who may be on track for academic success but who, without critical supports, are also in jeopardy of not reaching their full potential. Typically, we equate low income with low performing and, in so doing, miss a group of students who can benefit greatly from a variety of educational interventions. As a society, we need to move beyond the low expectations that are often placed on students from diverse communities—whether they are of color, from low-income backgrounds, or differently abled. We won’t be able to ameliorate inequities if we don’t fully appreciate the breadth of talent and potential that exists in these diverse communities.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered, and how did you overcome the challenge?

My biggest challenge is not one that I have overcome. My biggest challenge in the current moment is managing demanding work and home lives and not becoming undone by both. I serve on MDRC’s executive management team, lead our DEI work, and contribute to research. I am also the primary caregiver to both my mother and younger sister who have significant health and caregiving needs. I always have a running list in my head of things that need to get done and things that did not get done. I know I must prioritize self-care and, with that in mind, recently committed to pausing for seven minutes a day to take a deep breath and be still. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small act of self-preservation, but there are days when my seven-minute break eludes me. I am a work-in-progress.

How can the broader education research community better support the careers and scholarship of researchers from underrepresented groups?

First, I would encourage doctoral programs to offer students a more expansive view of their career options beyond the academy. Research firms, policy organizations, education agencies, and funding and nonprofit organizations need and would benefit from the voices, talents, perspectives, and skills of scholars from underrepresented groups who could help shape their education research and evaluation initiatives. While I understand the academy’s desire to train its own workforce, students are seeking careers outside of the academy. Why not help them make more informed choices?

Second, thinking of IES in particular, the first time I attended an annual IES Principal Investigators meeting, I was stunned by the lack of racial diversity among the Principal Investigators in attendance. I asked myself: Where were the people who looked like me who were designing the studies, conducting the research, learning about new funding opportunities, and determining what research is of value to the field? Training fellowships, apprenticeships, and research partnerships serve as important bridges and pathway programs for underrepresented groups, and I would encourage IES to expand its current initiatives to reach more students and emerging scholars.

Third, borrowing an idea that a colleague shared with me, IES could develop an incentive program in which, during the proposal review process, it formally rewards teams that submit proposals that feature diverse research teams. This approach could lead to a set of innovative and inspired partnerships.

Finally, I ask everyone reading this blog to think about what you can do within your own sphere of influence to support the careers and scholarship of researchers from underrepresented groups. Consider inviting a student or peer researcher to join you at a meeting or conference where they can learn more about the research enterprise, discuss their own research interests, and be introduced to others with similar interests. Think creatively about partnerships and the types of opportunities that can be created that would allow scholars from underrepresented groups to bring their expertise to bear on a project you may be involved in or conceptualizing. There are myriad ways to offer support.

What advice would you give to emerging scholars from underrepresented, minoritized groups that are pursuing a career in education research?

My advice applies to anyone in any field: find a mentor and a sponsor—a mentor who will show you how to navigate the field and push you to stretch outside your comfort zone and a sponsor who will create opportunities for you or who will advocate for you when opportunities are being discussed and you are not in the room.


Dr. D. Crystal Byndloss is a member of the IES Technical Working Group Increasing Diversity and Representation of IES-funded Education Researchers. Byndloss holds dual roles at MDRC. She is the organization’s first director of outreach, diversity, and inclusion and a senior associate in the K-12 Education policy area, where for more than a decade she has researched and directed initiatives to promote college access and success for students with low incomes. She is a senior adviser to the IES-funded evaluation of the New York City P-TECH Grades 9-14 school model and is part of the IES-funded CTE Advise evaluation research team.

 

This year, Inside IES Research is publishing a series of interviews (see here, here, and here) showcasing a diverse group of IES-funded education researchers and fellows that are making significant contributions to education research, policy, and practice. As part of our Black History Month blog series, we are focusing on African American/Black researchers and fellows as well as researchers who focus on the education of Black students.

 

Produced by Katina Stapleton (Katina.Stapleton@ed.gov), co-Chair of the IES Diversity and Inclusion Council and predoctoral training program officer.

 

Supporting Bilingual Learners in Early Childhood

The Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Special Education and Early Intervention was designed to prepare scientists to conduct rigorous, practice-relevant research to advance the fields of special education and early intervention. Xigrid Soto-Boykin recently completed an IES postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Kansas and is currently an assistant research professor and senior scientist at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on early childhood education for bilingual learners, including those with communication impairments. We recently caught up with Dr. Soto-Boykin to learn more about her career, the experiences that have shaped it, and how her work addresses equity and inclusion in early intervention. This is what she shared with us.

Photo of Xigrid Soto-Boykin

As a Puerto Rican who learned English at age 11 and who was the first person in my family to attend college, my passion for conducting research focused on high-quality early childhood education for Latinx preschoolers stems from my personal experiences.

During my postdoctoral fellowship at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas under Dr. Judith Carta, I had the opportunity to conduct community-based research in a local bilingual early childhood center in Kansas City. Initially, my goal was to expand my dissertation work, which focused on evaluating the effects of bilingual emergent literacy instruction for Latinx preschoolers. However, like all great stories go, my research agenda took some unexpected twists and turns. On the day my initial research study was approved, we were informed we needed to work remotely and that we could not go on-site to conduct our research due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What initially felt like a major setback became an opportunity to expand my research. While working remotely, I continued to collaborate with the administrators and teachers to determine their most pressing needs. We co-constructed a strategic plan for identifying the center’s strengths and areas for improvement. To address areas identified as major needs, we began initiatives to provide educators with ongoing professional development and families with engagement opportunities. Through this research-community partnership, we were awarded a Kauffman Quality Improvement Grant. This grant is funding our creation of the infrastructure necessary to apply data-based decision making to guide teacher professional development and monitor children’s school readiness and bilingual development.  

In 2020, as the nation was reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning of the structural racism impacting the lives of Black and Brown individuals, the work I was doing at the bilingual early childhood center became contextualized. I saw how teachers who earn minimal wages risked their lives to provide essential care for children and families. I saw how families struggled to make ends meet after losing their jobs. I began understanding how linguistic discrimination impacts the way researchers, educators, and policymakers address bilingualism. As I read outside my typical fields of speech-language therapy, bilingualism, and early childhood special education, I began to see how the interconnected systems in our society impact the lives of Latinx bilingual children.

This renewed understanding led me to where I am today. In 2020, I launched a website, habladll.org, containing free resources for parents, teachers, and therapists working with bilingual children. I am presently an assistant research professor and senior scientist of bilingual learning at The Children’s Equity Project (CEP) at Arizona State University. The CEP is a non-partisan center that seeks to inform research, policy, and practice to promote equitable access to early childhood education. In this role, I am applying what I learned during my postdoctoral fellowship to ensure young dual language learners with and without disabilities and their families receive the bilingual support they deserve.

My research and personal experiences are one and the same. I see myself as a scholar-activist with the goal of creating just educational experiences for Latinx children and their families. I am grateful for my training, mentors, colleagues, and community partners who continue to equip me with the tools to co-create a world where Latinx children receive high quality early childhood instruction centered on their unique linguistic and cultural assets.

This year, Inside IES Research is publishing a series of interviews (see here, hereand here) showcasing a diverse group of IES-funded education researchers and fellows that are making significant contributions to education research, policy, and practice.

This blog was produced by Bennett Lunn (Bennett.Lunn@ed.gov), Truman-Albright Fellow, and Katie Taylor (Katherine.Taylor@ed.gov), postdoctoral training program officer at the National Center for Special Education Research.