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September 08, 2004 Extra Credit
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September 8, 2004

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Early Reading First Grant will Help Children in Arizona Enter School "Ready to Read"

The following are excerpts from an article yesterday in the ASU Web Devil highlighting how preschool children will benefit from a No Child Left Behind Early Reading First grant recently awarded to Arizona State University:

"Arizona State University] can help improve the reading skills of children after receiving a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The three-year grant is a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, a multifaceted law aimed at improving the education of disadvantaged students at the pre-collegiate level. "

"Shelley Gray, assistant professor of ASU’s Speech and Hearing Science, will head the project funded by the grant called, ‘Tempe Early Reading First Partnership.’ … Gray said they hope to start working on the project in early October. ‘We know that if children haven’t learned how to read by the third grade, the chances of them becoming good readers are reduced,’ Gray said. ‘We also know that we can identify who’s at risk for reading problems during preschool, so why not work on the skills they need to become good readers in preschool to avoid future failure?’ she said."

"The first goal [of the project] is to ensure that preschoolers start elementary school ready to read, Gray said. Children targeted by the program are those who come from low-income families, many of whom speak English as a second language. ‘We can help kids get ready to read by training preschool teachers to teach important oral language and pre-reading skills during preschool,’ Gray said."

"The second part of the project involves extensive teacher training. Gray said preschool teachers, teaching assistants, speech-language pathologists and administrators who work with preschoolers will take an ASU class designed especially for them. The preschool teachers will practice the skills they learn in their classrooms. Experienced early literacy mentors will also coach the teachers in their classrooms about eight hours per week. Gray said the teachers will help the students develop their oral language skills and improve their early reading and writing by teaching them about phonemic awareness, for example, breaking words into syllables or rhyming words."

"The last part of the project involves research on how children who are enrolled in the program progress compared to children who are not in the program. ‘We’ll be able to see how effective our teacher training was and how effective the intervention for kids turned out to be,’ Gray said. To do this, teachers and researchers will complete regular assessments of all the children involved in the program, she added."

"‘We know now from research what important skills preschoolers need to have to become good readers,’ Gray said. ‘That’s really the whole point of professional development … to teach teachers to do the kind of things that will help the kids to be successful.’"

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013