UH Researchers Earn $1.6 Million Grant to Help Students with Dyslexia

Associate Professor Kristi Santi serves as principal investigator of the federal grant.

University of Houston researchers have received a nearly $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help improve reading outcomes for students who are struggling.

The researchers will work with schools to set up processes that allow educators to better identify students with dyslexia and use proven instructional strategies to accelerate progress.

“It’s an important grant because it helps schools look at change through a systems lens,” said Kristi Santi, an associate professor of special populations at the UH College of Education and the principal investigator on the grant. “You want to have a process in place that continues regardless of who the players are so the services remain evidence-based and appropriate for all students.”

The project focuses on one of the most persistent challenges in education: reading proficiency rates that lag across the country. On the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, roughly two-thirds of fourth- and eighth-graders performed below the proficient level in reading.

Coleen Carlson, a research assistant professor at the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES) at UH, is co-principal investigator of the grant. The other co-investigators are Jacqueline Hawkins, an associate professor of special populations; Shawn Kent, an assistant professor of special populations; Jack Fletcher, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair and director of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities; David Francis, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair and director of TIMES; and Elsa Cardenas-Hagan, a bilingual speech language pathologist in Brownsville and research faculty at TIMES.

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