Directory of People & Offices
Nonie K. Lesaux
Professor of Education
Nonie Lesaux is a professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Lesaux leads a research program that focuses on increasing opportunities to learn for students from diverse linguistic, cultural, and economic backgrounds in todays classrooms. Her research on reading and vocabulary development, and instructional strategies to prevent reading difficulties has implications for practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. Lesauxs research, conducted in five large school districts in the United States, is supported by research grants from several organizations, including the Institute for Education Sciences and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. From 20022006, Lesaux was senior research associate of the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Youth and from 20072009, she was a member of the Reading First Advisory Committee for the Secretary of Education in the U.S. Department of Education. In 2007, Lesaux was named one of five WT Grant scholars, earning a $350,000 five-year award from the WT Grant Foundation in support of her research on English language learners in urban public schools. Lesaux is also a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers.
- Ph.D., University of British Columbia
- Katzir, T., Lesaux, N.K., & *Kim, Y. (in press). The role of reading self-concept and home literacy environment in fourth grade reading comprehension. (forthcoming)
- Kieffer, M. J. & Lesaux, N.K. (in press). The role of morphology in the reading comprehension of Spanish-speaking English Language Learners. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. (forthcoming)
- Kieffer, M.J., Lesaux, N.K., & Snow, C.E. (in press). Promises and pitfalls: Implications of No Child Left Behind for identifying, assessing, and educating English language learners. In G. Sunderman (Ed.), Holding NCLB Accountable: Achieving Accountability, Equity, and School Reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. (forthcoming)
- Lesaux, N.K., Rupp, A.A., & Siegel, L.S. (in press). Growth in reading skills of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds: Findings from a 5-Year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology. (forthcoming)
- Samson, J. & Lesaux, N.K. (in press). Language minority learners in special education: Rates and predictors of identification for services. Journal of Learning Disabilities. (forthcoming)
- Kieffer, M.J. & Lesaux, N.K. (2007). Breaking down words to build meaning: Morphology, vocabulary, and reading comprehension in the urban classroom. The Reading Teacher, 61, 134-144. (2007)
- Lesaux, N.K., Vukovic, R.K., Hertzman, C., & Siegel, L.S. (2007). Context matters: Examining the early literacy skills and developmental health of kindergartners. Early Education & Development, 18, 497-518. (2007)
- Francis, D.J., Lesaux, N.K., & August, D.L. (2006). Language of instruction for language minority learners. In D. L. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing Literacy in a second language: Report of the National Literacy Panel. (pp.365-414). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (2006)
- Francis, D.J., Lesaux, N.K., Rivera, M., *Kieffer, M.J., & Rivera, H. (2006). Practical guidelines for the education of English language learners. Portsmouth, NH: Center on Instruction. (2006)
- Lesaux, N.K. & Geva, E. (2006). Synthesis: Development of literacy in language minority learners. In D. L. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing Literacy in a second language: Report of the National Literacy Panel. (pp. 53-74). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (2006)
- Lesaux, N.K. (2006). Building consensus: Future directions for research on English Language Learners at-risk for learning difficulties. Teachers College Record, 108(11), 2406-2434. (2006)
- Lesaux, N.K. (with Koda, K., Siegel, L.S. & Shanahan, T). (2006). Development of literacy of language minority learners. In D. L. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing literacy in a second language: Report of the National Literacy Panel. (pp.75-122). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (2006)
- Lesaux, N.K., Lipka, O., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). Investigating cognitive and linguistic abilities that influence the reading comprehension skills of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(1), 99-131. (2006)
- Lesaux, N.K., Pearson, R., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). The effects of timed and untimed testing conditions on the reading comprehension performance of adults with reading disabilities. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(1), 21-48. (2006)
- Lipka, O., Lesaux, N.K., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). Retrospective analyses of the reading development of a group of grade 4 disabled readers: Risk status and profiles over 5 years. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(4), 364-378. (2006)
- Ragan, A., & Lesaux, N.K. (2006). Federal, state, and district level English Language Learner program entry and exit requirements: Effects on the education of language minority learners. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 14(20). (2006)
- Rupp, A.A., Lesaux, N.K., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). Meeting expectations? An empirical investigation of a standards-based reading assessment. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28(4), 315-333. (2006)
- Lesaux, N.K. & *Crosson, A.C. (2005). Addressing variability and vulnerability: Promoting the academic achievement of English learners in San Diego. In R. Hess (Ed.). Urban Reform: Lessons from San Diego (pp.263-281). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. (2005)
- Lesaux, N.K, & Siegel, L.S. (2003). The development of reading in children who speak English as a second language (ESL). Developmental Psychology, 39(6),1005-1019. (2003)
- Wilson, A.M. & Lesaux, N.K. (2001). Persistence of phonological processing deficits in college dyslexics with age-appropriate reading skills. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 394-400. (2001)
- Scholars Award, William T. Grant Foundation (2007)
- National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005)
- Finalist, International Reading Association Outstanding Dissertation Competition (2004)
- Doctoral Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2001)
- Doctoral Training Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Population Health Division (2001)
- Joseph Katz Memorial Scholarship, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia (2001)
- Marg Csapo Scholarship, British Columbia Teacher's Federation (2001)
- Wilda Adams Memorial Scholarship, University of British Columbia (2000)
- Doreen Kronick Scholarship, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (1999)
- Member, International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities
- Member, Society for the Scientific Study of Reading
- Society for Research in Child Development
- Sources of Reading Comprehension Difficulty for English Language William F. Milton Fund (2006-2007) and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2006-2007)
- Drawing on the Advances in Science to Drive Innovation in Early Childhood Policy and Practice, Barr Foundation, (2013-2014)
Early education and care (EEC) providers play an essential role in facilitating young childrens development. As a result, early childhood quality improvement efforts often include attention to educator competencies such as instruction and relationship quality. Yet, these efforts have placed little emphasis on an essential set of skills EEC providers capacities for social, emotional, and cognitive regulation. These skills, including stress management, coping and emotional regulation, and relationship-building, influence educators instructional and classroom practices and therefore childrens outcomes. Self-regulatory skills are needed by everyone who works with young children, and early childhood educators have stressful jobs under the best of conditions. But this stress is magnified in vulnerable communities, because young children living with the adversities of poverty exhibit more behavior problems, on average, than their peers (Evans et al., 2004; Gunnar, 2000). In these same settings, early childhood educators often face significant personal stresses. For example, research has found moderate to high rates of depression among Head Start staff (HHS/ACF/OPRE, 2006) and 61% of full-time early childhood staff earn roughly the equivalent of the poverty level income for a family of four (U.S. GAO, 2012). It is not surprising, then, that high rates of off-task behavior and cycles of negative interactions among adults and children are common in EEC settings in disadvantaged communities (Raver, 2004). In such circumstances, a negative feedback loop can emerge in which stressed, dysregulated children and chaotic environments strain EEC providers, interrupting their interactions with children and hindering their ability to manage behavior, cope with challenges, and provide high quality instruction. This cycle may help to explain alarmingly high rates of behavior problems and even explusions among preschoolers and kindergarteners (Gilliam, 2005; Gilliam & Shahar, 2006). To break this cycle, this project aims to build EEC providers self-regulatory skills, including emotional regulation, stress management, executive functioning, and ability to communicate calmly and warmly with children, in order to support the high quality interactions and skill modeling that support childrens self-regulation. An intervention in which project staff work with EEC providers at one Boston site to help them understand and work toward strong self-regulation will be developed and implemented. The intervention will include reflective exercises, discussion, case studies, video, and other interactive strategies that have been shown to be effective. An intervention focused on providers self-regulation could improve the learning environment through a two-fold process: first, by increasing providers awareness of their own reactions to stressors, and second, by strengthening their abilities to manage their classrooms and develop students own self-regulatory capacities. The expected result is that EEC providers improved self-regulation will affect individual students and also the overall classroom climate, or the dynamic relationships among students, teachers, and peers (Pianta & Hamre, 2009), such that an entire classroom of students could be shifted toward cycles of greater self-regulation. To build EEC providers self-regulatory capacity, several opportunities within the EEC setting will be harnessed. These include providers deep knowledge from the field, the chance to get ongoing feedback and input from providers, and the chance to develop and test new strategies in real time.
- Investigating the Malleability of Teacher Talk in urban Middle School Classrooms, William T. Grant Foundation , (2011-2012)
The need for empirical investigation of key features of classroom settings and their relationship to student outcomes is particularly high in urban middle schools, often plagued by low performance and reports of limited teacher capacity to meet students' academic needs. Guided by the overarching goal of improving urban middle school students' literacy outcomes, the proposed study focuses squarely on a key feature of the classroom setting as it relates to reading comprehension, namely the teacher's talk. We hypothesize that the classroom setting that encourages extended discourse and facilitating analytic discussion with and among students, may be the setting that most improves student learning. To test this hypothesis, we analyze teachers' own language use as a proxy for classroom talk. The proposed project is part of a large-scale experimental evaluation of a vocabulary program implemented in 13 mainstream urban middle school programs with high numbers of language minority learners and struggling readers. The evaluation includes students (n=2500) and teachers (n=46) from the 13 participating schools. The large amount of high-quality observational data collected by videotape (approx. 3,420 minutes from 76 observations) over the course of an academic year provides the basis for analysis of teacher talk on student reading comprehension outcomes.
- The Rigorous and Regulated Learning Environment:
A Community-Based Partnership to Transform Interactions among Vulnerable
Populations in Early Education and Care Settings, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, (2011-2013)
The foundations of lifelong health are established in the earliest years of childrens lives. Because children develop in relational contexts, adults health and well-being are fundamental to childrens. Thus, promoting young childrens healthy development requires focusing resources towards a community-wide commitment to building capacity among adults and institutions, including early education and care settings. This project is designed to build community capacity to promote young childrens healthy development by building early care and education providers health, well-being, and skills. Targeting vulnerable communities, the project has two primary goals. First, it aims to increase the functioning and sustainability of systems and the adults who work within them, above and beyond providing an array of services. Second, it aims to build knowledge about scaling effective, research-supported practices (rather than programs or curricula) for promoting young childrens healthy development. The project takes a tiered approach in which a targeted project serves as a learning lab for effecting community change. It: (1) begins with a broad focus on mapping community contexts and how they shape early childhood development, (2) works with an early care and education setting in an identified (vulnerable) community to develop a set of strategies for building educators capacity to serve the target children, and (3) utilizes the knowledge gained to disseminate lessons about building and scaling community-level capacity-building. The 2-year project is the first step in a program of work to enhance community change initiatives in ways that support young childrens healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development. It focuses on early care and education providers as a lever for change. Specifically, it aims to build providers health, well-being, and skills, through supporting their positive interactions with children and provision of high quality learning environments. In so doing, it targets community change at multiple levels: by improving adults health, childrens health, and community capacity.
- Language Diversity and Literacy Development: Increasing Opportunities-to-Learn in Urban Middle Schools, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, (2008-2011)
Guided by the goal of accelerating the literacy development of both English language learners (ELLs) and their native English-speaking classmates, the proposed study evaluates the efficacy of a vocabulary instruction program in urban middle schools. The study employs a group-randomized design to investigate the effects of the Vocabulary Improvement Program (VIP; Lively, Carlo, August, & Snow, 2003) when used in 6th grade urban classrooms. The VIP is an instructional intervention designed to improve the reading comprehension of ELLs and their classmates through explicit instruction in vocabulary and word-learning strategies. The VIP has a strong theoretical foundation rooted in empirical developmental research on vocabulary, second-language learning, and reading comprehension as well as carries with it some evidence of potential efficacy from a study that employed a quasi-experimental design (Carlo et al., 2004). However, the efficacy of the VIP has yet to be tested empirically using an experimental design and has yet to be investigated in a large number of urban middle school classrooms. The key outcomes include several aspects of vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension, assessed using both standardized and researcher-designed measures. Targeted aspects of vocabulary knowledge include global reading vocabulary assessed using a standardized measure, as well as mastery of taught words and word-learning strategies (i.e., analyzing word parts, extracting meaning from context clues, and using dictionaries) assessed using researcher-designed measures. Similarly, targeted aspects of reading comprehension include global comprehension skills using a standardized measure. Specific comprehension skills, including comprehension of passages with VIP target words and morphological skills are assessed using researcher-designed measures. Students in both the treatment and control groups are assessed at three time pointspre- and post- intervention and six months after the end of the treatment period. Multi-level modeling are used to investigate the student-level, school-level, and classroom-level effects and account for the statistical problems involved in the nesting of students within classrooms within schools. Simultaneously, the multi-level model of change are used to analyze growth in student outcomes over the three points in time, and thereby assess the immediate and long-term effect of the treatment. It is hypothesized that the intervention will not only produce meaningful short-term gains for ELLs and their classmates but will also place these learners on an accelerated trajectory characterized by rapid vocabulary learning and reading comprehension development.
- Predicting Spanish-Speaking Children's Growth in Reading Pre-K Through Seventh Grade, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, (2007-2012)
This study examines reading development from pre-K through seventh grade in a sample of Spanish-speaking children for whom data have been collected on home literacy, parent language use and attitudes, and socioeconomic status. In addition to examining overall trajectories of reading development for this group of learners, this study begins to address the question of how to differentiate between students reading difficulties stemming from their status as second language learners with limited English oral language proficiency and experience with print in English, and learning difficulties not primarily related to English language learning. The three main goals of this project are: to improve our understanding of developmental trajectories of reading achievement of Spanish-speaking children educated in the United States from pre-kindergarten through seventh grade; to examine the influence of social factors (e.g., demographics), cultural factors (e.g., home literacy practices), and linguistic factors (e.g., language proficiency in Spanish and English, language of reading instruction) on the reading trajectory; and, to gain insight into the source of academic difficulties of language minority learners.
- Language Diversity and Literacy Development: Increasing Opportunities to Learn in Urban Middle Schools, William T. Grant Foundation , (2007-2012)
This project is designed to address the overarching goal of increasing opportunities to learn for English Language Learners (ELLs) in urban middle schools, with a specific focus on building capacity in the system to promote their literacy development. To address this goal, the research seeks to examine the effectiveness of a vocabulary instruction program - designed to promote the ability to learn from texts - when used in 6th grade classrooms with ELLs and their classmates. In addition to examining treatment effects, this research seeks to investigate classroom- and school-level facilitators and barriers to the implementation and sustained use of the program.
A press release on Associate Professor Lesaux being named recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.
An announcement on Lesaux being named the Max and Marie Kargman Assistant Professor in Human Development and Urban Education Advancement
A feature on Nonie Lesaux and her studies on how morphology can become an instructional tool for all students learning how to read
An article on Lesaux being named a William T. Grant scholar