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Release: Immediate

UI heads $99,000 initiative for statewide Reading Recovery program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa youngsters who are having trouble learning to read and the teachers trying to reach them will soon receive a boost through a new $99,000 initiative led by the University of Iowa College of Education.

The funding, which officially began July 1, will be used to create a statewide Reading Recovery Training Center that organizers hope will increase the number of trained Reading Recovery teachers in Iowa from the current 300 to about 1,000 by the year 2001.

Reading Recovery, which has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education's National Diffusion Network, is an intervention program that relies on daily, focused, one-on-one tutoring of at-risk first-graders by teachers specially trained in reading, writing and language development.

Steven R. Yussen, dean of the UI College of Education, is a member of a statewide task force that worked to gain approval of and funding for the center.

He says Reading Recovery has been successful in many states and has been successful in the Iowa schools and districts where it's been adopted.

"This really has captured the imagination of teachers around the country," he says. "It's proven that it can help many students who otherwise would fall seriously behind their classmates.

"And I think most educators would say that if you don't learn to read and write early in school, you're going to have trouble later," Yussen says.

Funded through a state appropriation, the Iowa training center will work as a consortium involving the UI, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, and the state's Area Education Agencies.

Reading Recovery is modeled on a diffusion network. Under the program, each training center is headed by a "Teacher-Director," who administers the center. The Teacher-Director oversees the training of "Teacher-Leaders," a group of specially prepared educators who are qualified to train individual Reading Recovery teachers at the local school and district levels.

At each level -- Teacher-Director, Teacher-Leader and Reading Recovery teacher -- the trained educators work with first-graders throughout the school year in one-on-one sessions. Reading Recovery teachers tutor as many as 20 students a year.

Mary Lose, a visiting professor at the UI College of Education, will be the center's first director and trainer.

She will spend the 1997-98 academic year at the National Reading Recovery Training Center at Ohio State University for a year-long, intensive course on Reading Recovery and to earn certification as a Teacher-Director.

The center is expected to open in July 1998. It will most likely be located in the Des Moines area.

Once the center gets under way, organizers expect to train as many as 700 Reading Recovery teachers during the following three years. The center and its director will also provide ongoing support, information and continuing feedback to all the reading recovery professionals working in the state.

Currently, there are 11 Teacher-Leaders in Iowa and about 300 Reading Recovery teachers serving about 2,200 students in 123 school districts. Organizers estimate that as many as 8,000 of the state's 41,000 first-graders could be helped through Reading Recovery.

Nationally, nearly 100,000 students each year are students in Reading Recovery.