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Story Tips From The Curry School Of Education At The University Of Virginia

October 1, 2003 -- Talking the talk

Talking to young children helps prepare them for reading, says Laura Justice, assistant professor in the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. She is conducting several projects aimed at assessing the oral language skills of at-risk children and determining ways for pre-school teachers to help students improve. Preschool children from low-income backgrounds are especially at risk for under-developed oral language skills, Justice notes. She was one of seven researchers nationwide who recently received a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to test pre-school curricula. *

Laura Justice may be contacted by e-mail at lmj2t@virginia.edu or by telephone at (434) 924-3332.

* The other institutions receiving U.S. Department of Education grants are: University of California-Berkeley, Florida State University, Georgetown University, University of Missouri, Columbia University and the Success for All Foundation.

Preschool transition

Almost 75 percent of the kindergarten population has had some form of preschool, says U.Va. education professor Robert Pianta. But, according to kindergarten teachers, about half of the children have problems making the transition from preschool to kindergarten. Pianta, who has been conducting a long-term study in collaboration with the National Center for Early Development & Learning, can talk about the best ways to ensure successful transition into kindergarten. He and research assistant Marcia Kraft-Sayre recently published a workbook for educators on how to develop and implement a transition plan, “Successful Kindergarten
Transition: Your Guide to Connecting Children, Families and Schools.” A handful of states and school districts, including Charlottesville, have already adopted their transition model, and the approach is being considered nationally.

Robert Pianta may be contacted by e-mail at rcp4p@virginia.edu or by telephone at (434) 243-5483 or 243-5481.

Reading First

Mary Abouzeid, the professor who heads Curry’s TEMPO reading outreach program, and professor Marcia Invernizzi, who developed the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening, are helping implement the federal No Child Left Behind initiative in Virginia.

The state received a Reading First grant, which is part of the federal program, for almost $17 million to boost youngsters’ reading skills earlier this year. Under the grant, the Curry School receives about $2.2 million a year for five years to give Virginia teachers advanced training in reading instruction and to help evaluate their students’ progress. The first three Reading Academies trained 800 out of 32,000 teachers this summer. Abouzeid’s Reading First plan extends the course to 2,000 teachers next summer, a number that will grow in successive years. The course gives kindergarten and first-grade teachers the latest methods and training based on research.

Matching instruction with assessment tools is key, Abouzeid said. And that’s where PALS comes in. Teachers are taught how to use Invernizzi’s phonetics-based literacy screening, available on the Web at http://pals.virginia.edu/, so they can mark their children’s progress before and after using new methods to give kids plenty of reading opportunities and experiences.

Mary Abouzeid may be contacted by e-mail at ma5y@virginia.edu or by telephone at (434) 924-0750.

Marcia Invernizzi may be contacted by e-mail at mai@virginia.edu or by telephone at (434) 924-0844 or 243-8685.

Contact: Anne Bromley, (434) 924-6861

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Wednesday, 01-Oct-2003 12:39:26 EDT
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