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Haskins Laboratories Awarded Teacher Quality Research Grant

New Haven, CT: Haskins Laboratories has been awarded a four-year (2003-2006) grant from the U S Department of Education to implement a Teacher Quality Research Grant, Mastering Reading Instruction: A Professional Development Project for First Grade Teachers. The award was for one of three proposals to study reading instruction, funded by the Institute of Educational Science, a new division focusing on the study of educational research.This study is among the first of its kind to link teacher knowledge, teacher practice and student achievement.

This new initiative measures teacher knowledge and teacher practice as these relate to student achievement in approximately 100 first grade classrooms throughout the state of Connecticut. Teachers are provided with systematic professional development and further training based on scientific reading research results. An external Haskins mentor is assigned to approximately half of the schools to work with first grade teachers on applying these results within their classrooms.

Haskins Laboratories, a private, non-profit research facility, has focused on language factors in learning to read and on causes of reading success and reading difficulties. Haskins scientists discovered the importance of phoneme awareness for beginning readers, a critical breakthrough in understanding reading acquisition. In 2000, the Early Reading Success Initiative began to help bridge the gap between research and practice in schools, particularly in those serving economically disadvantaged students. This professional-development project has been dedicated to helping teachers learn effective, research-based methods of reading instruction. Demonstration sites with highly trained mentors have been established as real-world models of how to successfully provide professional development on scientifically based reading methods.

The new grant, Mastering Reading Instruction, builds on and extends this approach, providing much-needed documentation of essential elements of professional development in literacy.

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Lesley Schurmann, Communications Consultant