Sarah Powell

Sarah Powell

Assistant Professor

Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders


Office & Hours

Office: SZB 408K

(512) 475-6556

Courses of Instruction
EDC 370E: Elementary Mathematics Methods
SED 372 Assessment of Individuals with Mild/Moderate Disabilities
SED 383 Instructional Adaptations II

Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Special Education
1 University Station Stop D5300
Austin, TX 78712
UT Mail Code: D5300



Sarah R. Powell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education. After teaching kindergarten, Sarah worked at Vanderbilt University as a project coordinator of grants related to word-problem solving and computation for elementary students. Sarah’s dissertation focused on providing instruction about the equal sign (=) to students with mathematics difficulty. Her dissertation won awards from the Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council for Learning Disabilities. Sarah also won the Early Career Publication Award from the Division for Research of the Council for Exceptional Children. Sarah’s research interests include developing and testing interventions for students with mathematics difficulties. She is especially interested in peer tutoring, word-problem solving, and the role of symbols for understanding mathematics. During two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, Sarah designed and implemented randomized-control trials related to nonsymbolic understanding of mathematics, manipulative use, and explicit mathematics vocabulary instruction for students with mathematics difficulties.





Ph.D. Vanderbilt University

M.Ed. Vanderbilt University

B.A. Centre College


Representative Publications

Powell, S. R. (2015). Connecting evidence-based practice with implementation opportunities in special education mathematics preparation. Intervention in School and Clinic, 51, 90-96. doi:10.1177/1053451215579269

Powell, S. R. (2015). The influence of symbols and equations on understanding mathematical equivalence. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50, 266-272. doi:10.1177/1053451214560891

Powell, S. R. & Driver, M. K. (2015). The influence of mathematics vocabulary instruction embedded within addition tutoring for first-grade students with mathematics difficulty. Learning Disability Quarterly, 38, 221-233. doi:10.1177/0731948714564574

Powell, S. R., Driver, M. K., & Julian, T. E. (2015). The effect of tutoring with nonstandard equations for students with mathematics difficulty. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48, 523-534. doi:10.1177/0022219413512613

Powell, S. R., Fuchs, L. S., Cirino, P. T., Fuchs, D., Compton, D. L., & Changas, P. C. (2015). Effects of a multitier support system on calculation, word problem, and pre algebraic learning among at-risk learners. Exceptional Children, 81, 443-470. doi:10.1177/0014402914563702

Powell, S. R., & Nurnberger-Haag, J. (2015). Everybody counts, but usually just to 10! A systematic analysis of number representations in children’s books. Early Education and Development, 26, 377-398. doi:10.1080/10409289.2015.994466

Fuchs, L. S., Powell, S. R., Cirino, P. T., Schumacher, R. F., Marrin, S., Hamlett, C. L., … Changas, P. C. (2014). Does calculation or word-problem instruction provide a stronger route to pre-algebraic knowledge? Journal of Educational Psychology, 106, 990-1006. doi:10.1037/a0036793

Powell, S. R., & Fuchs, L. S. (2014). Does early algebraic reasoning differ as a function of students’ difficulty with calculations versus word problems? Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 29, 106-116. doi:10.1111/ldrp.12037

Powell, S. R., & Stecker, P. M. (2014). Using data-based individualization to intensify mathematics intervention for students with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46(4), 31-37. doi:10.1177/0040059914523735

Powell, S. R., Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs. D. (2013). Reaching the mountaintop: Addressing the Common Core Standards in mathematics for students with mathematics difficulties. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 28, 38-48. doi:10.1111/ldrp.12001

Powell, S. R. (2012). Equations and the equal sign in elementary mathematics textbooks. The Elementary School Journal, 112, 627-648. doi:10.1086/665009

Powell, S. R. (2011). Solving word problems using schemas: A review of the literature. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 26, 94-108.

Powell, S. R., Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (2011). Number combinations remediation for students with mathematics difficulty. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 37(2), 11-16.

Powell, S. R., & Fuchs, L. S. (2010). Contribution of equal-sign instruction beyond word-problem tutoring for third-grade students with mathematics difficulty. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 381-394. doi:10.1037/a0018447


Recent Awards

  • Early Career Publication Award, 2011, Division for Research, Council for Exceptional Children
  • Dissertation Award, 2010, Division for Learning Disabilities, Council for Exceptional Children
  • Outstanding Researcher Award, 2009 (i.e., Dissertation Award), Council for Learning Disabilities
  • Robert Gaylord-Ross Award for Excellence in Scholarly Writing, 2009, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University
  • Dick Shores Teacher Education Award, 2009, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

Current Research Projects and Grants

2015-2019, Institute of Education Sciences, Goal 3: Developing connections between word problems and mathematical equations to promote word-problem performance among students with mathematics difficulty.

2014-2016, National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship: Understanding the influence of math symbols and vocabulary on math performance.

2014-2017, Greater Texas Foundation Faculty Fellowship: Investigating the effects of algebra and rational numbers performance on post-secondary preparation, access, and persistence for students with and without mathematics difficulty.

Mathematics tutoring for children ages 5 to 10 with Down syndrome

Assessment of mathematics writing (4th grade)