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Release: Immediate

Grant to UI Foundation will improve literacy among Iowa's first-grade students

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A grant of more than $575,000 from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust will allow the University of Iowa College of Education to help boost literacy among first-graders throughout Iowa.

The grant to the University of Iowa Foundation will enable the Reading Recovery Center of Iowa to fully implement the Reading Recovery program across the state by the end of the 2001-2002 academic year. The University of Iowa College of Education is the fiscal agent for the Reading Recovery Center of Iowa, which is located in Des Moines and one of only 23 university training centers in North America.

Reading Recovery is an early intervention program designed to prevent reading failure among first-grade children. More than 80 percent of students who complete the Reading Recovery program, which lasts an average of 15 to 20 weeks, begin performing within the average achievement range of their peers and do not need remedial help again. The continued success of students who have completed Reading Recovery has encouraged educators worldwide to implement the program.

This literacy initiative continues to gain attention. The Reading Recovery Center of Iowa and the University of Iowa will host the first state conference on Reading Recovery Feb. 19 and 20 in Des Moines.

"This grant provides a helping hand in the form of scholarships to school districts and Area Education Agencies to train Reading Recovery teacher leaders," said Richard Shepardson, interim dean of the UI College of Education. "The Reading Recovery Center of Iowa makes the literacy program more accessible and affordable, so teachers can get the training they need right here in Iowa, rather than traveling out of state to participate. The Carver grant improves the long-range chances for success for the Reading Recovery program in Iowa. Research shows the Reading Recovery program reduces student retention in the same grade, referrals to special education and a student's need for Title I services. This is, indeed, a boost for the entire state, and I am proud that the UI College of Education is helping this important program meet the needs of Iowans."

The Carver grant will fund training for more teachers to make Reading Recovery available to all eligible first-graders in Iowa -- about 8,000 children who are at risk for reading failure and in need of individualized instruction. Only 3,800 children are being served during the current academic year.

Mary Lose, director of the Reading Recovery Center of Iowa, said the grant "will meet a critical need and will allow us to bring struggling young readers to literacy. Children with poor reading skills often go through a cycle of confusion, frustration and anxiety. This pattern of thinking quickly leads to feelings of failure for these at-risk students. They often fall behind classmates and require years of remedial instruction. Early intervention participation in Reading Recovery can halt the cycle of failure and enable children to become independent readers with improved self-esteem and classroom performance."

The Reading Recovery program was introduced in Iowa in 1991 in Des Moines. The University of Iowa-based training center, which opened in 1998, now serves 141 school districts and provides ongoing professional development for teachers and technical assistance to affiliates. The center also conducts and critiques research and disseminates information about Reading Recovery.

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine, Iowa, is a private foundation established through the will of Roy J. Carver, an Iowa industrialist and philanthropist who died in 1981. Carver was especially interested in helping young people obtain a good education and in advancing knowledge and better health through biomedical and scientific research.

During his lifetime, Carver contributed nearly $10 million to the University of Iowa in support of scholarships, professorships, medical research, health care and athletics. Since 1982, the Carver Trust has contributed more than $25 million to UI projects. The University of Iowa Foundation is the preferred channel of support for private contributions to all areas of the University of Iowa. Foundation staff members work with organizations, alumni and friends to provide support for a broad range of programs and projects at the University of Iowa.

2/11/99