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Selected Publications

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We conducted a systematic review and analyzed CBM content represented in practitioner-focused journal articles.We examined the extent to which the decision-making aspects of CBM were represented, replicating an analysis of CBM PD materials by Espin et al. (2021). Approx 18% of content across articles was devoted to topic of decision-making.

#tagline: Practitioner (or "how to") articles written about CBM are limited in their inclusion of content on instructional decision-making.

Fry, E., Toste, J. R., Feuer, B., & Espin, C. A. (2023). A systematic review of CBM content in practitioner-focused journals: Do we talk about instructional decision-making? Journal of Learning Disabilities. Advance online publication.

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We explored the role of teacher perceptions in determining the amount of time students spend in small group reading instruction. Neither teacher perceptions of academic competence nor perceptions of problem behaviors predicted time in small group instruction for either grade. However, first graders with high levels of both academic competence and problem behaviors received the most time in small group reading instruction.


#tagline: Instructional decision-making may be influenced by teachers’ perceptions of their students’ academic and behavioral capabilities. There is a need to investigate whether decision-making improves when teachers receive targeted training in this area.

Toste, J. R., McLean, L., Peng, P., Didion, L. A., Filderman, M. J., Sparapani, N., & Connor, C. M. (2023). Do teacher perceptions of students’ academic and behavioral skills influence time spent in small-group reading instruction? The Elementary School Journal, 124(2), 245-269.

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We conducted an RCT to study the effects of DBDM to intensify a multisyllabic word reading program for students with or at risk for reading disabilities in 4th and 5th grades and assigned students to one of three conditions: (1) initial customization of intervention, (2) initial customization plus DBDM, (3) business as usual (BAU). Students in the second condition outperformed those who received initial customization only on decoding, and students in both treatment conditions outperformed those in the BAU condition on multisyllabic word reading. However, BAU students outperformed those in both treatment conditions on comprehension efficiency. 


#tagline: Improvements in word reading outcomes are associated with DBDM in word reading interventions for students in upper elementary grades.

Filderman, M. J., & Toste, J. R. (2022). Effects of varying levels of data use to intensify a multisyllabic word reading intervention for upper elementary students with or at-risk for reading disability. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 55(5), 393-407.

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Through systematic review of the literature, we examined (1) the self-determination skills are taught to improve reading outcomes for students with or at-risk for learning disabilities (LD) in kindergarten through fifth grade, and (2) the effects of interventions that teach self-determination skills on reading outcomes for elementary students with or at-risk for LD. It is critical that foundational self-determination skills are taught in the elementary grades so that individuals will be empowered into adulthood; however, application of self-determination both at the elementary level and focused on students with LD remains limited.

#tagline: Research on elementary students with LD has focused almost exclusively on self-regulation. There remains a gap in what we know about the potential for self-determination skills to support reading achievement. 

Didion, L., Toste, J. R., Benz, S., & Shogren, K. A. (2021). How are self-determination components taught to improve reading outcomes for elementary students with or at-risk for learning disabilities? Learning Disability Quarterly, 44(4), 288-303.


We explore how secondary students with disabilities (enrolled in 6th to 12th grades) navigated the COVID-19 global health crisis within the ecological model of resilience, particularly exploring the role of self-determination. We aimed to give voice to secondary students with disabilities to better understand the strengths that facilitated wellbeing during this period of adversity.

#tagline: Students voiced ways in which they used a range of self-determined actions to navigate their new online learning environments and their wellbeing in multiple contexts. These resources are left untapped without supports that foster the development of students’ individual strengths and positive adjustment. 

Toste, J. R., Raley, S. K., Toews, S. G., Shogren, K. A., & Coelho, G. (2021). “Eye opening and chaotic”: Resilience and self-determination of secondary students with disabilities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 26(2), 157-183.

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We analyzed effects from a corpus of 132 published articles. While past research has provided accumulating evidence that motivation is associated with reading, this is the first meta-analysis that has been conducted in which this relation is shown to be significant and stable across K-12 students. Findings further suggest that the theoretical construct used to operationalize motivation may moderate associations with reading, and lend evidence for the bidirectional nature of this relationship. We would argue that motivation is not tangential to, but a critical component of reading development. 

#tagline: While motivation and reading are inarguably related, earlier reading performance is a better predictor of motivation than motivation is of later reading.

Toste, J. R., Didion, L., Peng, P., Filderman, M. J., & McClelland, A. M. (2020). A meta-analytic review of the relations between motivation and reading achievement for K-12 students. Review of Educational Research, 90(3), 420-456. 

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We examined effects from 28 studies of teacher professional development and its impact on reading outcomes for K-8 students. Teacher PD had a moderate, significant effect on reading achievement. We were unable to consider several potential moderators; for example, only 3 studies included middle school students, and only 4 studies including disaggregated outcomes for students with or at-risk for reading disability.

#tagline: PD is important, but there is a continued need for high-quality studies that explore the relation between teaching learning and change in practice.

Lemons, C. J., & Toste, J. R. (2019). Professional development and coaching: Addressing the “last mile” problem in educational research. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 44(4), 300-304.

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We developed and tested the efficacy of a multisyllabic word reading (MWR) intervention, with and without an embedded motivational belief training component. This study included struggling readers in 3rd and 4th grades randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) multisyllabic word reading only (MWR); (2) multisyllabic word reading with motivational beliefs training (MWR+MB); and (3) business-as-usual comparison (BAU). Students in both MWR conditions outperformed the BAU condition on measures of word reading fluency. Students in MWR+MB condition outperformed the MWR-only group on sentence-level comprehension and outperformed the BAU in ratings of attributions for success in reading.

#tagline: Evidence for efficacy of MWR intervention for upper elementary students, and suggestion that embedded motivational beliefs training can strengthen intervention outcomes.

Toste, J. R., Capin, P., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G. G., & Kearns, D. M. (2017). Multisyllabic word reading instruction with and without motivational beliefs training for struggling readers in the upper elementary grades: A pilot investigation. The Elementary School Journal, 117(4), 593-615.

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The working alliance encompasses both the emotional (bond) and collaborative (task
and goal) aspects of relationship. We examined whether ratings of classroom working
alliance differed between students with and without high-incidence disabilities (SWD),
and the interaction of disability status with teacher- or student-rated alliance variables
in predicting school-related outcomes. Results indicated working alliance differentially
predicted outcomes; students’ ratings of collaboration predicted greater academic
competence and school satisfaction for SWD when compared with their peers.

#tagline: Positive classroom working alliance may serve a protective function for students with disabilities.

Toste, J. R., Bloom, E. L., & Heath, N. L. (2014). The differential role of classroom working alliance in predicting school-related outcomes for students with and without high-incidence disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 48(2), 135-148. 

Toste ISC 2023

Preservice teachers need high-quality, structured opportunities to practice using student assessment data to make instructional decisions. Data teams provide a framework for this practice. In this article, we describe key components of effective data teams, provide sample data team activities, and offer guidelines for planning a successful data team experience.


#tagline: Data-based instructional decision-making is a critical competency for teachers of students with severe and persistent reading difficulties. Data teams offer a structure for developing data-use skills within teacher preparation programs. 

Toste, J. R., Filderman, M. J., & Espin, C. (2023). Data teams in teacher preparation programs: Improving data-based instruction in reading. Intervention in School and Clinic, 59(1), 40-47.

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We examined literacy interventions delivered to students in kindergarten through third grade in Africa. Across 10 studies published between 1975 and 2019, we explored the extent to which early literacy intervention research has been conducted in Africa as well as the effects of these interventions on literacy outcomes. As indicated by the fact that just 10 studies met our inclusion criteria, we found that rigorous, early literacy intervention research has been limited in Africa and there is a critical need for additional research in this area.


#tagline: High-quality early literacy intervention research in Africa is largely missing from existing literature and is critically needed.

White, Z. U., Toste, J. R., & Filderman, M. J. (2023). A synthesis of early literacy intervention research conducted in Africa for students in kindergarten through third grade. The Elementary School Journal, 123(4), 563-582.

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To examine the effects of data literacy training on teacher knowledge and skills and teacher beliefs about data use, we analyzed 33 studies with 163 effect sizes. We found that research design, the use of coaching, covering multiple topics, and including data interpretation did not moderate the effects of training on teacher knowledge and skills. Using a collaborative format, however, positively impacted these outcomes. Average effects of trainings were moderate for teacher beliefs and large for knowledge and skills.


#tagline: Data literacy training had a significant positive effect on teacher outcomes related to data use. Teachers should be trained on this critical topic.

Filderman, M. J., Toste, J. R., Didion, L., & Peng, P. (2022). Data literacy training for K-12 teachers: A meta-analysis of the effects on teacher outcomes. Remedial and Special Education, 43(5), 328-343.

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We analyzed data from the ECLS-K: 2011 (a nationally representative, longitudinal dataset) to investigate whether data-focused training predicted teacher use of data on four decision-making outcomes: monitor progress of specific skills, identify skill deficits, monitor overall progress of students performing below benchmark, and determine placement in instructional tiers. Professional development focused on data use significantly predicted teachers' use of data across all four dimensions related to reading instruction. For math instruction, data use was not as consistently reported across outcomes.

#tagline: Teacher professional development (PD) on data use predicts their increased data use for a variety of decision-making purposes.

Filderman, M. J., Toste, J. R., & Cooc, N. (2021). Does training predict second grade teachers’ use of student data for decision making in reading and math? Assessment for Effective Intervention, 46(4), 247-258.

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We conducted two single-case design studies to examine the effects of a program aimed at improving struggling readers (3rd grade) oral reading fluency performance through self-monitoring, goal setting, and motivation training. Students' oral reading fluency scores increased across intervention phases, suggesting that self-determination and motivation training have the potential to support student performance.

#tagline: Data Mountain supported increased oral reading fluency performance for struggling readers in the third grade.

Didion, L. A., Toste, J. R., & Benz, S. A. (2020). Self-determination to increase oral reading fluency performance: Pilot and replication single-case design studies. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 35(4), 218-231.

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We analyzed the use of instructional time for 35 8th grade social studies teachers. Each teacher had their classes randomly assigned to business-as-usual (BAU) instruction or the PACT Program. Generally, teachers spent more time engaged in interactive instruction in PACT classes compared to BAU. Instructional behaviors were significantly related to changes in content knowledge acquisition in the BAU classes. However, in PACT classes, teachers’ instructional behaviors were not significantly related to changes in content acquisition, except for non-instructional activities and non-content related video, which both had negative effects.

#tagline: While interactive instructional time remains important, the instructional methods utilized during this time are equally (if not more) impactful on student achievement.

Toste, J. R., Vaughn, S., Martinez, L. R., & Bustillos-SoRelle, D. (2019). Content-area reading comprehension and teachers’ use of instructional time: Effects on middle school students’ social studies knowledge. Reading and Writing, 32(7), 1705-1722.

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We tested the hierarchical model of achievement motivation (Elliot & Church, 1997), which argues that achievement goals provide a critical link between personality motives (mindset) and achievement-related behaviors (engagement) in struggling readers. For 4th and 5th-grade struggling readers, the findings from this study suggest that the effect of mindset on reading comprehension is completely mediated by achievement goals (mastery and performance-avoidance goals) and emotional engagement.

#tagline: Motivational variables help explain individual differences in reading comprehension for struggling readers.

Cho, E., Toste, J. R., Lee, M., Ju, U. (2019). Motivational predictors of struggling readers’ reading comprehension: The effects of mindset, achievement goals, and engagement. Reading and Writing, 32(5), 1219-1242. 

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We developed the Classroom Working Alliance Inventory, with parallel teacher (CWAI-T) and student (CWAI-S) forms. In this study, we examined the construct validity of the CWAI. Multilevel confirmatory factor analyses supported a two-factor model, representing the emotional and collaborative elements of relationship. These findings provide evidence for the validity of the construct of classroom working alliance in capturing the working relationship between teacher and student.

#tagline: The CWAI can be used reliably with both teachers and students to assess working alliance within the classroom setting.

Toste, J. R., Heath, N. L., Connor, C. M., & Peng, P. (2015). Reconceptualizing teacher-student relationships: Applicability of the working alliance within classroom contexts. The Elementary School Journal, 116, 30-48. 

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We built upon the group design quality indicators proposed by Gersten and colleagues (2005) to develop an expanded set of indicators to promote research that helps identify for whom and under what conditions special education interventions are effective. Additionally, we introduced new quality indicators to further rigor through open science practices. This work expands upon the 2021 IES update to SEER and specifically addresses group design research in special education.


#tagline: Updated quality indicators for special education group design research can support the generation of new scientific knowledge that advances equity and inclusion of students with disabilities.

Toste, J. R., Logan, J., Shogren, K. A., & Boyd, B. (2023). The next generation of quality indicators for group design research in special education. Exceptional Children, 89(4), 359-378.

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We assigned 81 students with or at risk for learning disabilities to one of three conditions to test the effects of Data Mountain, a self-determination program, on oral reading fluency (ORF): (1) small group, (2) individual, (3) comparison condition. Students in the small group and individual Data Mountain conditions performed similarly to one another, and both groups outperformed comparison students on ORF and rate of growth. We did not find evidence of participant characteristics moderating the effects of either program or delivery format. 


#tagline: Data Mountain demonstrates promise for improving students’ ORF and rate of growth without direct reading instruction by teaching self-determination skills.

Didion, L. A., & Toste, J. R. (2022). Data Mountain: Self-monitoring, goal setting, and positive attributions to enhance the oral reading fluency of elementary students with or at-risk for reading disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 55(5), 375-392.

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To identify effective instructional practices for supporting the reading development of students with disabilities, special education researchers have historically employed scientific inquiry to investigate literacy strategies and interventions. This approach has led to a robust body of evidence, collected over a 40-year period, detailing essential practices for beginning readers. Of particular importance are instructional practices that have emerged from research in the areas of explicit instruction and data-based instruction, as these practices have demonstrated effectiveness for promoting reading achievement for typically developing students as well as those with disabilities.


#tagline: Special education research has made unique and innovative contributions to the “science of reading”. 

Toste, J. R., & Lindström, E. R. (2022). The science of instruction: Contributions of special education research to reading science. The Reading League Journal,

3(3), 30-39.

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We conducted a component analysis of two versions of an evidence-based, first grade reading program (Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies): PALS+Fluency, modified program with a repeated reading component, or PALS-Only. Students in either intervention outperformed those in the control group on phonological awareness, word reading, and reading fluency. PALS-Only students improved PA skills (over PALS+Fluency) with stronger effects for those with weaker pretreatment PA.

#tagline: These findings help us better understand For who is repeated readings (and PALS for that matter) more or less beneficial? 

Fuchs, D., Cho, E., Toste, J. R., Fuchs, L. S., Gilbert, J., McMaster, K. L., Svenson, E., & Thompson, A. (2021). A quasi-experimental evaluation of two versions of first-grade PALS: One with and one without repeated reading. Exceptional Children, 87(2), 141-162.

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We examined effects from 28 studies of teacher professional development and its impact on reading outcomes for K-8 students. Teacher PD had a moderate, significant effect on reading achievement. We were unable to consider several potential moderators; for example, only 3 studies included middle school students and only 4 studies including disaggregated outcomes for students with or at-risk for reading disability.

#tagline: PD is important, but there is a continued need for high-quality studies that explore the relation between teaching, learning, and change in practice.

Didion, L. A., Toste, J. R., & Filderman, M. J. (2020). Teacher professional development and reading achievement of K-12 students: A meta-analytic review of the effects. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 13(1), 29-66.

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In this replication study, strugglers readers in 4th and 5th grades were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) multisyllabic word reading only (MWR); (2) multisyllabic word reading with motivational beliefs training (MWR+MB); and (3) business-as-usual comparison (BAU). We broadened the scope of the motivational beliefs training to include goal setting in addition to positive attributions/self-talk. Intervention students significantly outperformed controls on an expanded assessment battery, including proximal measures of affix and multisyllabic word reading, and standardized measures of decoding, spelling, and text comprehension.

#tagline: Relatively brief MWR intervention improves outcomes for upper elementary struggling readers, but findings lead to questions about how to train and measure complex cognitive processes.

Toste, J. R., Capin, P., Williams, K. J., Cho, E., & Vaughn, S. (2019). Replication of an experimental study investigating the efficacy of a multisyllabic word reading intervention with and without motivational beliefs training for struggling readers. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52(1), 45-58. 

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We examined reading interventions that integrated data-based decision making (DBDM) for struggling readers in grades K-12. Across 15 studies, we reported small positive effects for reading interventions with DBDM. We also noted that few studies utilized standardized curriculum-based measurement probes, and adjustments made to instruction were varied and lacked details for how data were used to make these decisions. There is a need for more experimental research to systematically investigate DBDM practices.

#tagline: DBDM improves students’ reading performance. While effects seem modest, they are meaningful in that they represent outcomes for students with intensive academic needs who are often inadequately responsive to even the highest quality interventions.

Podcast interview with Jess and Marissa discussing this work.

Filderman, M. J., Toste, J. R., Didion, L. A., Peng, P., & Clemens, N. H. (2018). Data-based decision making in reading interventions: A synthesis and meta-analysis of the effects for struggling readers. The Journal of Special Education, 52(3), 174-187. 

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We examined profiles of first graders who responded adequately or inadequately to Tier 2 intervention, and assessed how these profiles differ based on two different identification methods: (a) reading composite with weighted standardized scores at the end of first grade, and (b) local norms on word identification fluency progress monitoring. The groups identified by these two methods differed in both academic and cognitive skill profiles. When measuring growth on progress monitoring measures, there were noted differences that distinguished adequate and inadequate response.

#tagline: Students deemed to be inadequate responders to Tier 2 reading intervention differ based on classification criteria.

Toste, J. R., Compton, D. L., Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., Gilbert, J. K., Cho, E., Barquero, L. A., & Bouton, B. D. (2014). Understanding unresponsiveness to Tier 2 reading intervention: Exploring the classification and profiles of adequate and inadequate responders. Learning Disability Quarterly, 37(4), 192-203.

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