Utah Leading through Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic (ULEAD) Education Research Partners

Overview

Utah Leading through Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic (ULEAD) Education is collaborating with research partners on multiple fronts. This page includes brief descriptions and contact information for the ULEAD Research Network, Priority Research Projects, and Proactive Clearinghouse Content Team.

ULEAD Research Network

The primary research partners listed below have worked collaboratively to design and conduct the annual ULEAD Effectiveness and Innovation Working Summit, publish the summit report, and provide leadership to expand and enhance efforts to systemically support continuous school improvement in Utah.

Summit Reports

Leadership for Literacy: ULEAD Effectiveness and Innovation Working Summit (April 2020 Report)

Leadership for Mathematics: ULEAD Effectiveness and Innovation Working Summit (June 2021 Report coming)

Primary Research Partners

Dr. Kim Austin
REL West

Dr. Janice Bradley
University of Utah

Dr. Patricia Castillo
REL West

Dr. Parker Fawson
Utah State University

Dr. Nikola Filby
REL West

Dr. David Forbush
Utah State University

Dr. Cori Groth
University of Utah

Dr. Andrea Rorrer
University of Utah

Dr. McKell Withers
ULEAD

ULEAD Priority Projects

ULEAD is currently sponsoring the following priority research projects being led by researchers at Utah universities. As the projects are completed, a link to the submitted report will be provided below following the brief project description. (Note: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated school disruptions have necessitated some timeframe adjustments for all sponsored projects.)

2019-2020 Current ULEAD Sponsored Projects and Partners

Half-day, Extended-day, and Full-day Kindergarten Outcomes in the State of Utah
University of Utah and Utah Education Policy Center (UEPC)

Andrea Rorrer, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

 

 

This project will identify factors that maximize the effectiveness of kindergarten and the outcomes that are expected with different kindergarten structures and features. Research Objectives and Study goals are: 1. document the implementation and outcomes of half-day, extended-day, and full-day kindergarten class types in the state of Utah; and 2. examine various issues that have been raised in the full-day versus half-day kindergarten discussion. Findings from these studies will provide actionable information about kindergarten practices and outcomes across the state that can be used for improving program quality, as well as to inform policy development aligned with the current needs and desired outcomes in the range of kindergarten programs and classrooms in Utah. In Phase I, we will better understand the landscape of practice in half day and full day kindergarten. In Phase II we will identify the differences in longitudinal outcomes for participants of half or full day kindergarten. In Phase III, we will study the impact of half day, extended day and full day kindergarten on Social and Emotional Learning.

Promoting Utah Teacher Retention Through Effective Classroom Management
University of Utah and Utah State University

Keith Radley, Ph.D.
Primary Investigator

Aaron Fischer, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

Tyler Renshaw, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

Disruptive behavior in the classroom is associated with teacher stress, burnout, and exiting the teaching profession. Recent research indicates that implementation of evidence-based classroom management procedures is associated with improvements in teacher self-efficacy and reductions in burnout, in addition to improvements in student academic engagement. This study will evaluate the effect of implementation of an evidence-based classroom management procedure, the Good Behavior Game, on teacher and student outcomes. This evaluation will be the first to investigate whether implementation of such procedures is associated with teachers’ intentions to return to teach at the same school. If found to be effective, the procedures investigated may provide a model for addressing teacher retention in Utah.  The current project serves as an extension of previous lines of research, as well as a novel synthesis in which the effect of classroom behavior management interventions is evaluated in terms of both student and teacher outcomes.

Reading and Anxiety Reduction
Brigham Young University

Elizabeth A. Cutrer-Párraga, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Melissa A. Heath, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

 

This project is designed to help children who are struggling when learning to read manage and cope with anxiety. Our efforts will focus specifically on how children’s anxiety interacts with early reading skill development. Our research team will train each participating 2nd grade classroom teacher to use carefully selected children’s picture books (stories) that include associated lesson plans and activities. Each book will contain a story that models anxiety-reduction skills and stress-management strategies. We will use the Multi-dimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC-R) to pre- and post-survey children and parent pairs to assess reading anxiety levels in participating 2nd grade students before and after the intervention.  This data will be correlated with district-provided, standardized student outcome measures for reading.

Successful Utah Efforts that Demonstrate Meeting Differentiated Student Learning Needs
Utah State University (USU)

David Forbush, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

 

 

This project will identify high and low performing elementary schools based on mathematics RISE scores for students with disabilities. Using compare and contrast analysis, the project will seek to identify what content, process, and product differentiation strategies exist that differ between high and low performing schools, as well as what transportable differentiation processes and systemic capacities exist that differ between these schools. Researchers will identify high and low performing schools and invite staff to participate. School staff will respond to survey tools and will be observed in the classroom by the principal investigator and an assistant.

Trauma-Informed Problem Solving (TIPS)
Southern Utah University

Jennifer McKenzie, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

Brianne Kramer, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

 

Trauma-Informed Problem Solving (TIPS) aims to incorporate training in trauma-informed practices and classroom-based coaching to improve internal capacity in school districts to meet the needs of students. Specifically, teachers will be trained to observe and coach each other in the use of evidence-based practices in classroom management that correspond to the literature in trauma-informed practices. TIPS addresses two critical needs in Utah: emotional and mental health supports in Utah schools and support systems that positively impact teacher retention rates. The purpose of the TIPS project is to create a training and individualized peer coaching model in trauma-informed classroom management and determine its effects on student behavioral outcomes and teacher efficacy in classroom management.

Coaching in Trauma-Informed Classroom Management

2020-2021 Current ULEAD Sponsored Projects and Partners

Student Achievement, STEM Course-Taking, Graduation, and Postsecondary Outcomes in Utah Charter Schools
University of Utah

Yongmei Ni, Ph.D. 
Principal Investigator

Andrea K. Rorrer, Ph.D. 
Co-Principal Investigator

Amy Auletto, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

This project seeks to provide insight into the unique roles of charter schools and locale in students’ access to secondary education in Utah, with a particular focus on STEM education opportunities. Informed by an opportunity-to-learn conceptual framework, we link secondary education opportunities with students’ experiences in high school, secondary outcomes, and post-secondary outcomes.

Measuring the Impact of Multi-tiered School Mental Health Supports on Rural Student Wellbeing
University of Utah

Aaron Fischer, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Tyler Renshaw, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

Chathuri Illapperuma, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

This project seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of a multi-tiered school mental health program on rural student wellbeing. The school mental health program will provide technical assistance in developing and setting up social-emotional curriculum and as well as aligning services within schools and between schools and community supports (including community mental health, physicians, psychiatrists). If found to be effective, the procedures investigated may provide a model for addressing student wellbeing in rural areas, and promote an effective model for setting up school mental health systems across Utah.

Utah Principal and Teacher Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic
University of Utah

Laura Rogers, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

 

 

The proposal seeks to study the well-being of education professionals across the state in order to identify (a) patterns in well-being across school and educator contexts, and (b) exemplar schools that may offer lessons for how well-being can be nurtured and sustained. The ultimate goal of the study is to provide information that state officials and practitioners can use to implement policies and initiatives aimed at improving educator well-being.

Bright Spots in Utah’s Implementation of Expanded Distance Learning
University of Utah

David Woo, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator;

Laura Rogers, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

 

This project proposes to work with Utah Virtual Academy (UTVA) in studying how students respond to educational experiences that are specifically designed for delivery in an online environment. Because of UTVA’s unique position as an online-only academy, it is an ideal setting for identifying and understanding “bright spots” in online teaching and learning. By isolating these bright spots, we will distill best practices and principles that can be leveraged and scaled up in public schools around the state. Additionally, our analysis can provide simultaneous feedback to UTVA on its most successful practices and structures to help it further refine its program.

Promoting Equity in Online Student Engagement Through Technology Enhanced Zoom Classes
University of Utah

Aaron Fischer, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Michael Young, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

Chathuri Illapperuma, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigators

This project will develop and evaluate the efficacy of an augmentative online teaching software to improve student engagement during Zoom classes. Teachers will receive summative feedback regarding student engagement from the software and use that feedback to modify their engagement strategies for students who are less engaged. If found to be effective, the procedures investigated may provide a model for addressing online student engagement during Zoom (or similar software) classes.

Early Childhood Equity and Access Case Study
University of Utah

Mary Burbank, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

 

 

This project will entail an evaluation of the impact of an early childhood preparation program for children as they enter kindergarten. Funding through ULEAD will allow an evaluation team to review existing student performance data, in coordination with SLCSD, to determine the effectiveness of past summer experiences. Data generated during summer 2021 will allow for an analysis of outcomes from the perspectives of students, and their families, as well as instructors and program leaders.

Proactive Clearinghouse Content Team

Based on the USBE Strategic Plan, the Governor’s Education Roadmap, and stakeholder input, ULEAD developed evidence-based clearinghouse content in partnership with Hanover Research. These Utah focused secondary research reports, briefs, and infographics provide proactive guidance for Utah educators, leaders, and policymakers. Over time, Utah-centric reports, tools, templates, and resources will be expanded. The principal investigator and partner from Hanover Research is Dr. Marriam Ewaida.

Contact

McKell Withers
Director
Phone: (801) 557-4227 | E-mail