Photo of Dr Sarah McDonagh Dr Sarah McDonagh

DipT (NSW), BEd Spec Ed (NE),Med (NE)PhD (Oregon)

Sarah Mc Donagh is a lecturer in Inclusive Education at Charles Sturt University. Sarah earned her doctorate in Special Education at the University of Oregon and has extensive expertise in the areas of instructional design, assessment, data-based decision making, and preventing reading difficulties in the early school years. Her research interests are in the areas of instructional interventions in reading for students identified at risk for reading difficulties in the early school years. Sarah has taught in regular and special education classrooms in both urban and rural settings and has more recent experience working with schools in a research, professional development, assessment and consultancy capacity.

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Research Interests

  • Early literacy research 
  • Prevention and intervention of reading difficulties (reading risk) 
  • School-wide approaches to reading improvement 
  • Learning difficulties Inclusive/special education 
  • Designing high quality instruction 
  • Data-based decision making 
  • Aligning assessment, curriculum and instruction to optimize learning outcomes for students

Funded Research Projects

  • 2009: Recipient of the Faculty of Education Innovation in Learning and Teaching Grant ($27, 522).  The Inclusive Education Team (Auhl, Bain, Lancaster, McDonagh, and Zundans) were awarded the grant for the proposal titled “Building a guide for course development communities employing a theory, research and practice of course design”.     
  • 2005: Determining the utility of fluency based indicators of foundational reading skills in New South Wales schools. Charles Sturt University, Faculty of Education, Supplemental Funds,  Charles Sturt University Australia ($3,000). Principal Investigator.   
  • 2005: An analysis of the utility of fluency based indicators of foundational reading skills in New South Wales schools.  Charles Sturt Unviersity, Faculty of Education, Faculty Seed Grant, Charles Sturt University Australia ($2,256). Principal Investigator.   
  • 2002: PROJECT READ: Read Efficiently, Accurately, Daily.  An Experimental Analysis of the Effect of Isolated Word Recognition Practice and Repeated Reading on the Sight Word Identification and Oral Reading Fluency Rate of Children Identified as At Risk for Reading Difficulties. Office of Special Education Programs: Student Initiated Research Grant (US $20,000). Project Directors: Sarah McDonagh & Edward Kame’enui.   
  • 2000: Professional development outcomes for supervising teachers through involvement in the practicum.  Charles Sturt University Small Grant, Charles Sturt University Australia ($8,000). Principal Investigator (with Tracey Simpson, Bob Hill and Wendy Hastings).

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Teacher Certification

  • Primary Education (K-6)
  • Special Education (K-12)

Current Teaching

  • ESS201 Understanding Diverse Learners
  • ESS407 Understanding Literacy Problems
  • ESS422 Assessment and Evaluation for Learning
  • ESS515 Preventing Reading Difficulties in the Classroom: A Schoolwide Approach
  • ESS518 Reading Difficulties: Prevention and Intervention
  • ESS599 Inclusive Education Policy, Practice and Resourcing
  • EPT505 Inclusive Education Practicum

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Member of the following professional organizations:

  • American Educational Research Association
  • Australian Association of Special Education
  • Council for Exceptional Children
  • Learning Difficulties Australia

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Refereed Journal Articles

  • Grima-Farrell, C., Bain, A., & McDonagh, S. H. (2011). Bridging the research to practice gap in inclusive education: A review of the literature. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 35(2), 117-136.
  • Simmons, D. C., Coyne, M. D., Kwok, O., McDonagh, S. H., Harn, E. A., & Kameenui, E. J. (2008). Indexing response to intervention: A longitudinal study of reading risk from kindergarten through third grade. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(2), 158-173.
  • Knutson, J. S., Simmons, D. C., Good III, R., & McDonagh, S. H. (2004). Specially designed assessment and instruction for children who have not responded adequately to reading intervention. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 29(4), 47-58.
  • McDonagh, S. H. & Sherman Brewer, N. J. (2002). Comprehension. In D. C. Simmons & E. J. Kame'enui (Eds.), Reading strategies & activities resource book: For students at risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia (pp 278- 394). Austin, Texas: Texas Education Agency/University of Texas System.

Book Chapters

  • Chard, D. J., Pikulski, J. J., & McDonagh, S. H. (2012). Fluency: The link between decoding and comprehension for struggling readers. In T. Rasinski, C. Blachowicz, & K. Lems (Eds.), Perspectives on fluency: from theory to practice, (2nd ed). Boston, MA: Guilford Publications.
  • Chard, D. J., McDonagh, S. H., Lee, S., Reece, V. (2007). Assessing word recognition. In J. R. Paratore & R. L. McCormack (Eds.), Classroom literacy assessment. New York, NY: Guilford Publciations, Inc.
  • Chard, D. J., Pikulski, J. J., & McDonagh, S. H. (2006). Fluency: The link between decoding and comprehension for struggling readers. In T. Rasinski, C. Blachowicz, & K. Lems (Eds.), Perspectives on fluency: from theory to practice. Boston, MA: Guilford Publications.
  • McDonagh, S. H. & Sherman Brewer, N. J. (2002). Comprehension. In D. C. Simmons & E. J. Kame'enui (Eds.), Reading strategies & activities resource book: For students at risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia (pp.278-394). Austin, Texas: Texas Education Agency/University of Texas System.
  • McDonagh, S. H. & Sherman Brewer, N. J. (2002). Fluency. In D. C. Simmons & E. J. Kame'enui (Eds.), Reading strategies & activities resource book: For students at risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia (pp.142-217). Austin, Texas: Texas Education Agency/University of Texas System.

Encylopaedia Entry

  • Kame'enui, E. J., McDonagh, S. H., Chard, D. J. (2005). Learning Disabilities. In The encyclopaedia of behaviour modification and cognitive behaviour therapy (Vol. 3, pp. 1377-1379). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Conference Presentations:

  • McDonagh, S. (2011). Reading fluency: Planning instruction for struggling readers. Successful Learning Conference, Sydney University, Sydney
  • McDonagh, S. H., Thompson, I., Aquilina, M. (2010).  Checking vital signs in early reading.  Successful Learning Conference, Harold Park Raceway Sydney.
  • Simmons, D. C., Coyne, M. D., Kwok, O., McDonagh, S. H., Harn, E. A., & Kameenui, E. J. (2008) Indexing response to intervention: A longitudinal study of reading risk from kindergarten through third grade. Presentation for the American Educational Research Association's National Conference, Research on Schools, Neighbourhoods, and Communities: Toward Civic Responsibility, New York City.
  • Kame'enui, E. J., & McDonagh, S. H. (2007). A School-wide model for the prevention of reading difficulties: An ode to Goethe and Miss Piggy. Invited speakers, Australian Association of Special Education National Conference, Sydney, New South Wales.
  • McDonagh, S. H. (2007). Beyond islands of excellence: A schoolwide approach to reading success. Keynote Presentation, Association of Independent Schools Special Education Conference, Sydney, New South Wales.
  • McDonagh, S. H. (2007). Checking vital signs: Curriculum based measurement, a system for monitoring the learning health of our students. Workshop Presentation, Association of Independent Schools Special Education Conference, Sydney, New South Wales.
  • McDonagh, S. H.  (2006)  Developing automaticity and fluency for non-responders in grades 2 and 3. Poster Session, Council for Exceptional Children National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • McDonagh, S. H., & Harn, E. A.  (2006)  Fluency with connected text: Planning instruction for struggling readers. Demonstration Presentation, Council for Exceptional Children National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • McDonagh, S. H., & Simmons, D. C.  (2006)  Teaching scaffolded book reading strategies to nonresponders in grade 3. Presentation, Council for Exceptional Children National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Simmons, D. C., & McDonagh, S. H.  (2006)  Response to intervention (RTI): A longitudinal study across the tiers - What research says about RTI as an early intervention model as a method of LD identification. Invited Speakers, RTI Strand, Council for Exceptional Children National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Simmons, D. C., McDonagh, S. H., Harn, E. A., Kennedy-Paine, P.  (2005)  Intensifying instruction for children who fail to respond to intervention. Presentation, International Dyslexia Association National Conference, Denver, Colorado.
  • McDonagh, S. H., Smith, L., Orton, K.  (2004) Response to Treatment : The Missing Link of Instruction. Presentation at the Oregon Conference, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Howe, K. B., Clarke, B., McDonagh, S. H., Howe, D.   (2004) The Western Regional Reading First Technical Assistance Center: The ABC's of Reading First Technical Assistance. Presentation at the Oregon Conference, Eugene, Oregon.
  • McDonagh, S., & Sherman-Brewer, N. (2002) Effects of supported repeated reading on the fluency skills of children identified as at-risk for reading difficulties. Presentation at the Oregon Conference, Eugene, Oregon.

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