A $2.7 million U.S. Department of Education grant announced Thursday to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will pay for nearly tripling the number of teachers in the university's literacy-intervention education program.
The university will use it to expand its program aimed at reducing the number of first-grade students who struggle in reading comprehension, said Angela Sewall, dean of the UALR College of Education. Sewall said UALR now uses 86 Reading Recovery teachers in the state. The grant, awarded over a fiveyear period, will allow the university to reach a goal of 250 Reading Recovery teachers by 2015.
"We've seen 75 to 80 percent of the students in our Reading Recovery program never have literacy problems,” Sewall said.
In the program, elementary schoolteachers learn how to work with the students and use specific types of instruction to help them overcome reading problems.
Linda Dorn, director of the UALR Center for Literacy in the College of Education, said it helps reduce the cost of overcoming reading problems.
"It is much easier - and more cost-effective - to prevent reading failure than to deal with the consequences of illiteracy,” she said.
Sewall said the program will expand its efforts to rural and Delta schools over the next five years.
"A lot of students are labeled as having special-education problems, who really don't have the problems,” Sewall said. "We're getting them back on track with intervention.”
UALR is one of 22 university-based Reading Recovery centers in the U.S. that uses direct training of teachers in schools. Other institutions in the program include Ohio State, Clemson University, University of Connecticut, University of Kentucky, University of Northern Iowa, University of South Dakota and the University of Pennsylvania.
UALR's grant is part of a $45.5 million effort by the U.S. Department of Education for the "Reading Recovery: Scaling Up What Works” project.
Nationally, the 22-university coalition will target 1,500 academically underperforming schools across the country and train 3,750 Recovery Reading teachers.