Research Projects


Project EXPERT

Teacher Expertise in Data-Based Decision-Making for Reading Intervention

This project is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences.

Through this four-year project, we aim to better understand the mechanisms to support teachers’ data-based decision-making (DBDM) to improve outcomes for upper-elementary students with reading difficulties and disabilities (including dyslexia). We develop and test the EXPERT Program. EXPERT will be built on several characteristics shown to be important in improving teachers’ use of curriculum-based measurement (CBM) progress data for guiding instruction: teachers’ content knowledge and self-efficacy; decision rules for evaluating data and linking assessment to instructional changes; self-monitoring of DBDM using the EXPERT Monitoring Tool (web tool); and fostering collaboration among special and general education teachers.


GoKAR! Educational Program: Teaching Anti-Racism to Preschoolers at Home

This grant was awarded to Dr. Jessica Toste from the Department of Special Education, Dr. Huriya Jabbar from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, and Dr. Kathrynn Pounders, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations to envision new research directions in diverse fields. We aim to develop an educational program for caregivers to teach anti-racism at home with preschool age children (4-5 years): GoKAR! (Kids Against Racism). GoKAR! will be framed within an integrative social-cognitive development perspective on prejudice and bias. This perspective considers the interactions between socio-contextual factors, such as social norms and in-group identity, and children’s socio-cognitive development. As such, the content for GoKAR! will focus on engaging with children’s context to influence emotional and cognitive processes to counter the development of racial bias. The research team aims to recruit caregiver-child dyads over the next year to explore the potential of GoKAR! to reduce implicit bias and increase awareness of structural racism in young children.


Understanding Pathways to Resilience and

Self-Determination for Secondary Students

with Disabilities Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Approximately 14% of the nation’s K-12 student population is served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and there is a serious concern that these students have experienced reduced supports during the COVID-19 pandemic. While wellbeing may be defined as absence of negative outcomes (e.g., disease, school failure), the study of resilience offers a different lens—drawing attention to growth in the presence of risk. The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to explore factors that contribute to the resilience of secondary students with disabilities (grades 6-12) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This work is
situated within an ecological model of resilience that recognizes complex interactions between individual attributes, systems of support, and context; and further examines the role of self-determination, a critical outcome for students with disabilities, and its relation to identified resilience factors.

Project DDOT

Data Decisions of Teachers

Students with reading disabilities (RD) require intensive, individualized interventions in order to make measurable gains in reading achievement. An essential feature of intensive intervention is the use of assessment data to drive instructional decisions. “Progress monitoring” refers to frequent (i.e., weekly), brief assessments of student progress which teachers use to inform when effective programs should continue or ineffective interventions need to be adjusted and customized further. Progress monitoring data are typically summarized with line graphs that indicate students’ progress toward a predetermined goal. The goal of this project is to help us better understand how teachers understand and use student assessment data to inform their instructional decisions



STAMP of Success in Doctoral Education: Student Training, Advising, and Mentorship Practices

Dr. Toste is leading this project as part of the Provost’s Teaching Fellows program.


STAMP examines the role of supervisory relationships in shaping doctoral students’ training and success. We are developing a mentorship model based on self-determined learning practices and will pilot this model with doctoral advisors. The goal is to propose best practice guidelines for facilitating success in doctoral education.