Doris Baker

Photo of faculty member Doris L Baker
Associate Professor, Department of Special Education
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Office: SZB 5.804L, SZB
View Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Doris Luft Baker is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Baker is engaged in developing and evaluating instructional tools and assessments in English and in Spanish designed to improve and monitor the academic performance of English learners with and without learning difficulties in reading, science, and social studies. Her research has been funded by agencies such as the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Science Foundation (NSF), Southern Methodist University, the Oregon Child Development Coalition, and the Knight Foundation among others. In addition, through partnerships with community organizations such as the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the Dallas Morning News, and Avance, Dr. Baker has explored the ways that Latinx families can develop the language proficiency of their children in Spanish and in English.

Currently, Dr. Baker is the principal investigator (PI) on three federal grants. She is the PI of project MITOS (funded by the Education, Innovation, and Research grant funding from the US Department of Education, 2024-2028, and project MELVA-S funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES, 2020-2024). Both of these grants incorporate technology, speech recognition systems and automated scoring. MITOS also has a parent component. Baker is also a Co-Pi on a grant to replicate the effects of the Read Well program in first grade (Project IR2RW, 2020-2025). This was the only reading replication grant awarded by IES in 2020.

Dr. Baker's research has been published in Exceptional Children, Review of Research in Education (RRE), Bilingual Research Journal, Learning Disabilities: Research and Practice, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Teaching Exceptional Children, Learning Disability Quarterly, Journal of School Psychology, and School Psychology Review (SPR), among others. Her review of bilingual education appeared in the RRE Centennial Volume in 2016. In 2018 she published the book: Second Language Acquisition: Methods, Perspectives, and Challenges, and in 2016 she published Bookshop Fonética, a curriculum program designed to teach phonics in Spanish to kindergarten and first-grade students in the U.S. In addition, Dr. Baker is the senior author of a formative assessment in Spanish for students in grades K-3: the Indicadores Dinámicos del Exito en la Lectura (IDEL 7th edition).

In 2019, she received a Fulbright award to conduct research in Chile in 2020. In 2019, she also received the Kirk Award for excellence in a research publication in Learning Disabilities, Research and Practice, a journal from the Council for Exceptional Children, and an award from the American Education Research Association Technology, Instruction, Cognition, and Learning SIG group for her international collaboration with Finnish researchers. In 2014, Dr. Baker was awarded funds to travel to Finland to research the Finnish education system through a grant from the National Science Foundation. In 2012 she received an honorable mention for an article she published in SPR in 2011, and in 2008 she received the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the International Reading Association.

Prior to coming to UT Austin, Dr. Baker was the Co-Director of the Ph.D. program in the School of Education at Southern Methodist University, and the director of the Master in Bilingual Education. Dr. Baker received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon. She holds an M.S. in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University and a B.S. in Psychology from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Before starting her doctoral studies, Dr. Baker was a Spanish instructor at the University of Oregon where she taught all Spanish language courses. She received the Instructor of the Year award in 2002 for the development of an internship that built a connection between the University of Oregon and the Latino community. She has also provided professional development and consultation to parents, teachers, and researchers in the United States, and in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Finland, and Qatar. Dr. Baker was born in Brazil and grew up in Colombia and Mexico. She is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and semi-fluent in German. Below are five of Dr. Baker's recent publications.

Baker, D. L., & Santoro, L. (2023). Quality Read Alouds Matter: How you teach is just as Important as What you Teach. The Reading Teacher.

Baker, D. L., Park, Y., & Andress, T. S. (2023). Longitudinal predictors of bilingual language proficiency, decoding, and oral reading fluency on reading comprehension in Spanish and in English. School Psychology Review, 52(4), 421–434.

Baker, D. L., Crespo, P., Monzalve, M., Garcia, I., & Gutiérrez, M. (2022) Relation between the essential components of reading and reading comprehension in monolingual Spanish-speaking children: A Meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 34(4), pp. 2661-2696,

Baker, D. L., Cummings, K., & Smolkowski, K. (2022). Diagnostic accuracy of Spanish and English screeners with Spanish and English criterion measures for bilingual students in grades 1 and 2. Journal of School Psychology (92), pp. 299-323,

Baker, D. L., Ma, HS., Polanco, PS., Conry, JS., Kamata, A., Al Otaiba, S., Ward, W., Cole, R. (2021). Development and Promise of a Vocabulary Intelligent Tutoring System for Second-Grade Latinx English Learners. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, (53)2, 223-247, DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2020.1762519

Other Selected Publications

Santoro, L.E. & Baker, D. L. (2023–October). The science of teaching English learners. Principal Magazine 102(5).

Baker, D. L., (2022). S5-E4. What bilingualism can teach us. Science of Teaching Reading, The Podcast:

Baker, D. L. (2022). Evidence-based practices to build language acquisition and reading development in bilingual learners. Learning Ally blog:

The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. (2021). 10 key practices for teaching reading in English-Spanish bilingual programs. (lead author)