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Grant Program: Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice in Special Education: Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
Contact: Dr. Amy Sussman
(202) 245-7424

In FY 2018, the Institute initiated a new grant program, Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice in Special Education to focus resources and attention on high-priority issues in special education and to create both a structure and process for researchers who are working on these issues to share ideas, build new knowledge, and strengthen their research and dissemination capacity. A Network consists of several research teams working on the same issue, coordinated by a Network Lead. The ultimate objectives are to (1) advance the field’s understanding of an issue beyond what an individual research project or team is able to do on its own and (2) assist policymakers and practitioners in using this information to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes for students with or at risk for disabilities.

The Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Network (MTSS Network) was recently established as the first Network under this program. MTSS are frameworks that provide multiple levels of support through coordinated, evidence-based practices, strategies, and structures to meet the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all learners. Although separate tiered systems have been studied in particular content areas (e.g., reading) and behavior, integrating both academic and behavior supports into one overall system may increase the alignment of interventions for students and use school resources more efficiently. Because integrating support systems is a more recent development for tiered systems and there is a lack of research on integrated supports, this Network was formed to investigate integrated MTSS. To focus the research teams on similar issues, the Network covers integrated MTSS in elementary school, addressing the needs of children with or at risk for disabilities. The MTSS Network includes four Research Teams and a Network Lead. Their roles are as follows:

The Network Lead will be responsible for administering and coordinating the MTSS Network. The Lead will plan and facilitate network meetings, coordinate cross-team early career training, develop and maintain a Network website, and organize a research synthesis and dissemination activities.
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Research Network (MTSS-RN) Leadership Team
Principal Investigators: Michael Coyne, Brandi Simonsen (University of Connecticut)

The Research Teams will conduct independent research projects while consulting and collaborating with one another, including using common measures. They will actively participate in all Network activities, including meetings, early career training, and dissemination activities.

The four research projects include:

Cohesive Integration of Behavior Support within a Process of Data-Based Intervention Intensification
Principal Investigators: Nathan Clemens, Sharon Vaughn, Greg Roberts, Christian Doabler (University of Texas, Austin)
This Research Team will develop and optimize an adaptive intervention within an MTSS model to improve elementary school students’ academic (reading or math) and behavior (self-regulation) outcomes to ultimately improve academic engagement and learning.

Evaluating the Impact of Integrated Behavior and Reading Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in Elementary Schools
Principal Investigators: Michael Coyne, Brandi Simonsen, Betsy McCoach (University of Connecticut)
This Research Team will rigorously evaluate the impact of three tiers of integrated behavior and academic (reading) supports and interventions on student outcomes and teacher practices in Grades K-2.

Measuring Implementation of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS): Integrated MTSS Fidelity Rubric (IMFR)
Principal Investigators: Allison Gandhi (American Institutes for Research), Erica Lembke, Chris Riley-Tillman (University of Missouri)
This Research Team will develop and test a tool for measuring school-level implementation of frameworks that integrate academic and behavioral MTSS.

Enhancing Ci3T: Building Professional Capacity for High Fidelity Implementation to Support Students' Educational Outcomes (Project ENHANCE)
Principal Investigators: Kathleen Lane (University of Kansas), Wendy Oakes (Arizona State University), Sandra Chafouleas (University of Connecticut), Amy Briesch (Northeastern University), David Royer (University of Hawai`i at Manoa), Eric Common (University of Michigan-Flint)
This Research Team will conduct an efficacy trial of a comprehensive, 3-tiered model that integrates academic, behavioral, and social learning supports, as well as develop structures (data systems and training to support leadership skills and capacity for implementation) for moving the system to scale.


Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education Network
Supporting Early Learning from Preschool Through Early Elementary School Grades Network
Scalable Strategies to Support College Completion Network