Major grant to fund Statewide
Early Literacy Program
 
    Southeast Missouri State University is leading the way with a new statewide early literacy intervention program designed to ensure that all Missouri children will be able to read by the third grade.
 
 The University has received a $750,000 state grant to begin implementing the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program, a project that will deliver Reading Recovery® to first graders and literacy support services to kindergarten through third grade children.
 
    "I am very thrilled," said Jeanine Larson Dobbins, coordinator of the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program and site coordinator and teacher leader for the Reading Recovery® Program at Southeast.  "With this grant, we will teach many  children to read who would otherwise not be readers.  In some families, we're going to break the cycle of illiteracy."

    Funding for the program was included as a line item in Gov. Mel Carnahan's fiscal 1998 budget.  The funds were approved by the Missouri House and Senate and are being awarded to Southeast through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  The program received bipartisan support from Missouri legislators.

       The program educates teachers to work with children at-risk of being reading failures -- primarily first graders, but also children in kindergarten through third grade.  The Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program complements a proven, successful program known as Reading Recovery® and will allow more children with reading difficulties to be reached.

    Reading Recovery® helps many of the lowest 15 to 20 percent of first-grade students read, as well as the average students of the class.  It prevents failure by helping children make accelerated achievement gains in reading and writing through individual instruction.  The early literacy intervention program supplements the Reading Recovery® program, providing additional support, through small groups, for first grade children who need early intervention, but for whom there is no space in a Reading Recovery® program.

    Dobbins says research has shown that schools using both Reading Recovery® and early literacy intervention programs have been able to serve and successfully graduate greater numbers of low-achieving first grade children than schools without the early literacy intervention component.
 

    She says funds from the $750,000 grant are being used in three ways:

    The grant began July 1, 1997 and runs through June 30, 1998.  Beginning this year, the state base budget will contain $250,000 to continue the program.

    By this June, Missouri will have doubled its number of Reading Recovery® teacher leaders.  It has taken six years to previously train 13 teacher leaders in Missouri and to move the program to its current level.

    "With 25 teacher leaders, we should be able to come close to full implementation of the program in Missouri by 2000-2001," Dobbins said.  "Almost every child in Missouri needing reading help should be served.  This truly gives hope to at-risk children, and the rewards are immeasurable.  This opens up a lot of doors.  When we break the cycle of failure in school, we've really done something significant."

    Dobbins was invited to present the grant proposal to leaders in Jefferson City by Missouri Senator Sidney Johnson, whose daughter, Lindsey Minson, was trained by Dobbins as a Reading Recovery® teacher. Sen. Johnson was impressed with the training his daughter received at Southeast.

    By invitation, Dobbins and her husband, Dr. Ken Dobbins, University executive vice president, began meeting with representatives from the governor's office, legislators and state education officials in April of 1996 in Jefferson City.  In the year that followed, they collaborated to receive this funding that will help many children across Missouri to become independent learners.
 

 Article reprinted from This Week On Campus
Volume 30, Number 10   October 27, 1997
Authors:  Ann Hayes & Jeanine Larson Dobbins
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