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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education ORCA

ORCA Project Award Announcement

Developing Online Reading Comprehension Assessments: The ORCA Project

The Institute for Education Sciences of the U. S. Department of Education has announced a research grant award of $2,813,127 to Dr. Donald J. Leu at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Leu is the Director of the New Literacies Research Lab at the Neag School of Education and holds the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology. He is a member of the departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology.

This four-year research project will initiate research to develop valid, reliable, and practical assessments of online reading comprehension for the schools of our nation. Previous research by Dr. Leu and his colleagues has demonstrated how new comprehension skills are required to read and learn from information on the Internet. These skills are a central aspect of life in the 21st century, yet no state or school district in the U.S. currently tests for student progress in these new literacies of online reading comprehension. Having valid and reliable assessments for online reading comprehension will enable schools to develop better instructional programs and prepare students for the reading skills that will define their future.

The research project includes partnerships with the Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education, the Superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the Director of the Regional Educational Laboratory, Northeast and Islands. It also includes partnerships with a number of Connecticut school districts. Co-Principal Investigators include Dr. Jonna Kulikowich of Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Nell Sedransk of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, and Dr. Julie Coiro of the University of Rhode Island. The Scientific Advisory Committee includes: Dr. Irwin S. Kirsch, Director of the Center for Global Assessment at Educational Testing Services; Dr. P. David Pearson, Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Elizabeth Sage, Director of the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Glenn Kleiman, Executive Director of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University; and Dr. Rand Spiro, Professor of Educational Psychology at Michigan State University and Co-Director of the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology Department. The Project Manager is Donna Bone and the doctoral research assistants include Lisa Zawilinski, J. Greg McVerry, W. Ian O’Byrne, Elena Forzani, Clint Kennedy, and Heidi Everett-Cacopardo. For further information please call the New Literacies Research Lab (860–486–0202), send email to, or visit the web site of the New Literacies Research Lab