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Six-year study wins SCEPUR Distinguished Paper Award

Research and Evaluation from South Carolina Reading First and Lessons Learned recognized nationally 

Office of Program Evaluation Director Dr. Tammie S. Dickenson was awarded the 2015 Distinguished Paper Award for Research and Evaluation from South Carolina Reading First and Lessons Learned at the Annual Conference of South Carolina Educators for Practical Use of Research held in Columbia, SC February 26-27. Dickenson credits the collaboration between OPE and the South Carolina Educational Policy Center for this success. (Pictured: Elizabeth Leighton, Robert Johnson, Mihaela Ene, Tammiee Dickenson.) 

Dickenson’s colleagues on this paper were Educational Studies Research Professor Robert L. Johnson and SC Educational Policy Center’s Director Dr. Diane M. Monrad, Research Associates Mihaela Ene and Elizabeth Leighton, Visiting Research Associate Tomonori Ishikawa, and Research Assistant Zhaoxia Guo.  

SCEPUR distinguished paper entries were evaluated and selected based on the usefulness, significance, and educational interest of the topic, as well as quality of research, accuracy of data analysis, appropriateness of the presentation of results, and validity of the content.

As the South Carolina Affiliate of the American Educational Research Association, SCEPUR selected Dickenson’s paper to be presented at the AERA annual meeting in Chicago, in April, the premier event for professionals in the realm of education research. Over 13,500 attendees consisting of scientists, scholars, and other related research professionals attended the event. Approximately 15 percent of AERA Annual Meeting attendees are scholars from more than 60 countries other than the US.

"We are honored to be recognized for our work and to have had the opportunity to represent South Carolina at the national meeting of the American Educational Research Association,” says Dickenson. “We are thankful to the South Carolina Department of Education for enlisting our services on evaluation and research for the Reading First grant, as well as numerous other projects. As SCEPUR's intent is to translate research into practice, we hope that the lessons learned offered will be used to inform programming under Read to Succeed."

Dickenson feels that it is important to reflect on lessons learned from earlier reading initiatives in SC with the implementation of the recently passed Read to Succeed legislation. Her paper did that by including a synthesis of literature, evaluation findings, and research results based on the South Carolina Reading First model. 

The presentation to SCEPUR highlighted various studies investigating the reading achievement of students who participated in the SCRF Initiative from 2004-2010, which can be used to inform school programming under Read to Succeed. This evaluation was a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Educational Policy Center and the Office of Program Evaluation at the University of South Carolina with the South Carolina State Department of Education.

Dickenson provides evaluation services on projects funded by federal and state sources, and has held positions with the Department of Statistics and the USC Office of Institutional Assessment and Compliance. Her research interests include multilevel modeling, quasi-experimental designs and item response theory. Development of project objectives and associated measures, instrument selection and development, and data collection and analysis are a few examples of types of services her office offers. Dickenson also mentors graduate students on applied data analysis methods and has served on doctoral committees in the College of Education and the Department of Statistics. 

AERA’s annual meeting theme was Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis. There, attendees explored the extent that this conviction applies to persistent inequities in education if justice is the objective. Dickenson’s paper was well-positioned to address this topic.