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CET-Udio: Closing the Literacy Gap

Infographic depicting that 36% of 8th grade students in the U.S. are proficient readers

In 2013, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 36% of 8th grade public school students read at a "proficient" level.

Project Name
National Center on the Use of Emerging Technologies to Improve Literacy Achievement for Students with Disabilities in Middle School

Project Description

CAST, in partnership with Vanderbilt University, is researching and developing a transformative approach to supporting middle school students with low literacy skills. The Center seeks to leverage the learning sciences and emerging technologies to develop a flexible reading environment that meets the needs of students who vary in their reading skills and motivation.

Within this environment, just-in-time supports afford students the opportunity to read age-relevant, grade-level text, discuss readings with peers, and write about what they read as a means to increase comprehension.

The goals of Udio, our literacy environment, are to:

  • foster motivation and a passionate interest in reading for students who have traditionally been uninterested in, or disenfranchised by, traditional classroom literacy practices
  • substantially improve the reading comprehension skills of middle school students who have experienced recurrent failure in the domain of reading

Take a Tour of Udio

Udio, our literacy research tool, is a networked reading environment for middle schoolers that displays engaging web content in a supported, personalized, and pedagogically rich format.


Data that emerged from the initial weeks of classroom pilot testing in fall 2013 suggested considerable potential and reason for optimism about the outcomes of the pilot test and eventually the project.

This optimism is buoyed by ratings of Udio's quality, relevance, and usefulness (QRU) in a survey of experts and of classroom teachers conducted by the Center's external evaluator.


Coyne, P. (2014). "Universal Design for Learning, Comprehension and Online Dialogues: Engaging Struggling Middle School Students." Presentation at Massachusetts Reading Association. Quincy, MA.

Coyne, P. (2014). "Fostering Creative Response Using Universal Design for Learning." Presentation at International Reading Association. New Orleans, LA.

Hasselbring, T. (2013). A technology-rich literacy experience for students with disabilties. Edutopia blog, December 30, 2013.

Daley, S. G. (2013). "Rethinking Literacy: Universal Design for Learning, Affective Neuroscience, and Emerging Technologies." Presentation at Learning and the Brain. Cambridge, MA.

Rose, D. (2013). "Multimedia for Multiple Representations in Literacy." Presentation at Universal Design for Learning Institute: Reaching All Learners (Harvard Graduate School of Education). Cambridge, MA.

Rose, D. (2013). "The Universal Literacy Network: Work in Progress." Presentation at New Profit's LDSEL (Learning Differences and Social-Emotional Learning) Conference. Brewster, MA.

Rose, D., Hasselbring, T., & Rappolt-Schlichtmann, G. (2013). "Emerging Technologies to Improve Middle School Literacy: The Role of Data Analytics Within a New Universal Literacy Network (ULN)." Break-out Session presentation at OSEP Project Directors' Meeting. Washington, D.C.


2012 – 2016


Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education


Vanderbilt University

Project Leadership

David H. Rose, EdD, CAST
Ted Hasselbring, EdD, Vanderbilt University


For more information about this project, please contact Tracey Hall.

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