Colby Hall smiles at camera wearing a blue shirt and a gold necklace.

With New Grant, Researchers Will Adapt Reading Intervention for English Learners

Assistant Professor Colby Hall will lead a team to modify a technology-based reading program to meet the needs of English Learners at risk for reading difficulties.

Audrey Breen

With $2.5M in new funding from the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston will adapt an existing technology-based, small-group reading intervention to better meet the needs of kindergarten through grade 3 Spanish-speaking English learners (ELs) at risk for reading difficulties.

The team will enhance the Accelerated Early Reading Outcomes (AERO) intervention, a program aligned with the science of reading, with the funding from the new grant.

"I'm excited to get these technology-based resources into the hands of teachers and families of Spanish-speaking emergent bilingual students,” said Colby Hall, assistant professor at the UVA School of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the project. “I'm hopeful they will make a big difference in students' literacy learning." 

The project is structured to meet four goals: 

  1. Integrate multimedia supports for teaching Spanish-speaking English learners into existing AERO lessons. 
  2. Develop new and enhance existing professional development modules.
  3. Develop a tool that assesses schools’ readiness to implement AERO.
  4. Pilot, finalize and disseminate a scalable and sustainable AERO ELs implementation package.

“One piece I'm especially eager to work on is our proposed ‘readiness tool,’ which will help assess school-level readiness to support teachers in delivering literacy instructional interventions to emergent bilingual students at risk for reading difficulties,” Hall said. “In addition to assessing readiness, it will help schools make a plan, if necessary, to achieve greater readiness to support teachers and their students.”

Hall will be joined on the project by UVA EHD colleagues, Emily Solari, Edmund H. Henderson Professor of Education, doctoral student Katlynn Dahl-Leonard, EL-VEST postdoctoral fellow Lauren Thayer, and partners from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The project will extend over five years in schools across Texas and Virginia.

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Audrey Breen