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


Utah Leading through Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic (ULEAD) Education is collaborating with the Primary Research Partners listed below as we’ve worked to highlight outstanding and effective work by Utah educators in K-3 Literacy and 3-6 Mathematics. 

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

Our Leadership for Mathematics Summit will be completed in 2020, with a published report to follow in early 2021.

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 is currently sponsoring the following priority research projects being led by researchers at Utah universities.  As the projects are completed, we will publish the results on our ULEAD Content and Collaborations Clearinghouse.  (Note: the Coronavirus pandemic and associated school closures 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
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.


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