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Monday, December 16, 2013 - Reading Recovery Center trains DPS teachers to improve literacy
 
The 29 DPS teachers being trained in Reading Recovery attended the annual Reading Recovery Institute of Michigan where experts presented research on child literacy issues.
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

Through its nationally recognized Reading Recovery Center, Oakland University has worked with hundreds of education leaders across Michigan to help under-performing first-graders gain the literacy skills for future academic success. The center’s latest efforts include an intensive campaign focused on some of the state’s most vulnerable students in Detroit Public Schools (DPS). 

With support from a multimillion dollar federal grant, the OU Reading Recovery Center is training 29 DPS teachers to implement Reading Recovery in their schools. The teachers are employed in 16 of the district's highest priority schools and the five-year grant – titled “Investing in Innovation” – is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“This is a major sustained intervention by Oakland in terms of supporting young children’s literacy across the city of Detroit,” said Dr. Mary Lose, associate professor and director of the OU Reading Recovery Center. “These teachers not only teach the most at-risk first-grade students, but also an additional 25-30 students in small group interventions during the other part of their instructional day. The teachers’ newly acquired expertise goes beyond Reading Recovery for the children in grade one and has an impact on literacy success for children across grade levels.” 

In addition, two DPS teachers – Jan DeRossett and Nicola Turner – are currently training to become certified Reading Recovery teacher leaders. The pair was selected to take part in a rigorous yearlong program that involves one-on-one teaching sessions with first-graders who are in the lowest 15-20 percent of readers in their school. The 30-minute one-to-one lessons are taught each day for 12-20 weeks with 8-10 first graders across the school year with the goal of boosting reading performance to normal levels. With guidance from Dr. Lose, the trainees also participate in reading research and theory course work at OU and clinical work with teachers and students in schools throughout metro Detroit. Once certified, they will train more DPS teachers to implement Reading Recovery in their schools. 

DeRossett has taught in the district since 1998 and has served as a Reading Recovery teacher for 12 years. She described the intensive training required for teacher leader certification: 

“The first year consists of five strands – teaching children, teaching teachers, implementation of Reading Recovery, literacy theories and research, and issues in literacy difficulties,” she explained. “In year two of the training, I will continue to be provided ongoing professional support and mentoring by Dr. Lose as I work in the teacher leader role within Detroit Public Schools. My role will consist of teaching teachers in a yearlong Reading Recovery teacher training course, providing ongoing professional development for trained Reading Recovery teachers, as well as teaching Reading Recovery students.”

Turner, a 17-year veteran educator in DPS, has spent 11 years as a Reading Recovery teacher and says her goal is to make Reading Recovery available to all the district’s struggling first-grade readers. 

“This is important to me because teaching reading is a complex concept, especially to learners who are the lowest achieving, and requires skilled and highly qualified educators,” Turner said. “If students are to be effective, transferable thinkers and learners, they need the very best that we can offer. I strongly believe that Reading Recovery offers the very best and is a viable solution to closing the achievement gap early before a cycle of failure begins.”

Developed by pioneer educator Dr. Marie Clay, Reading Recovery is a research-based initiative that aims to identity and assist children who are struggling to read. With an emphasis on early intervention, the program has helped thousands of at-risk children return to normal reading levels. DPS administrators believe that partnerships like the one with OU will play a leading role in boosting the district’s efforts to reach students early and avoid remedial instruction in later years.

“We’re trying to catch students before problems arise,” said Dr. Deborah Winston, executive director for the DPS Office of Literacy. “We’ve had Reading Recovery teachers in the district for 20 years, but reached a low point of having only three teachers in 2011. Through the grant funding and partnership with Oakland, we’ll be able to grow the number to 37 teachers.” 

OU is one of only 19 universities in the U.S. to serve as a Reading Recovery training center. Since its founding in 1991, the center has served more than 100,000 first-grade children throughout Michigan and over 1,200 Michigan teachers have been trained in Reading Recovery. At present, there are 15 certified Reading Recovery teacher leaders throughout Michigan, including three teacher leader trainees studying this academic year with Dr. Lose at Oakland University. These teacher leaders train new Reading Recovery teachers at the 13 Regional Reading Recovery sites throughout the state.

This past November, nearly 400 scholars and educators – including the 29 DPS teachers and their school administrators – attended the annual Reading Recovery Institute of Michigan. Held in Troy, the event drew Reading Recovery experts from around the nation who presented research on child literacy issues. Dr. Lose was one of the presenters and also introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Gay Su Pinnell, professor emerita from Ohio State University. 
 
“We’re helping set the pace for the rest of the state and for the country,” said Dr. Lose. “Studies have shown that investing in teacher training is the most important factor in helping improve student achievement.”
For more information on Oakland's Reading Recovery Center and its services, visit the website at oakland.edu/readingrecovery.

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