sealPurdue News

March 10, 2003

Early reading educator honored in General Assembly resolution

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University education professor Maribeth Cassidy Schmitt will be honored at 1:30 p.m. today (Monday, 3/10) in a resolution by the Indiana General Assembly.

Schmitt is president of the Reading Recovery Council of North America, an 11,000-member national organization, and director of the Purdue Literacy Network Project. She started the Reading Recovery Training Center at Purdue in 1993.

Reading Recovery is an early intervention program that provides individual instruction to first-graders who are having difficulty developing literacy skills. Since Schmitt introduced the program at Purdue, 1,300 teachers have been trained and 40,000 students have been given a leg up in the world of the written word.

"If you don't provide literacy skills early, children never catch up," Schmitt said. "We change lives."

Reading Recovery is based on a model developed in New Zealand in the early 1980s.

In the program, teachers spend 30 minutes a day with individual first-graders. The students receive an individualized approach depending upon needs the teachers are trained to spot, understand and respond to with appropriate exercises and instruction. The lessons involve working with letters and sounds, writing sentences, and reading little books.

Reading Recovery teachers are trained by teacher-leaders in 24 centers all over Indiana.

Indiana is one of the leading states offering the early-intervention reading program. Nationally, more than 1 million children have taken part in the Reading Recovery initiative. In Indiana, follow-up studies of the Reading Recovery students in the second, third and fourth grades show the students have retained reading levels comparable to their classmates.

The joint resolution honoring Schmitt was introduced by Rep. Patrick Bauer, House speaker, and Reps. Sheila Klinker, Sue Scholer and Cleo Duncan. Sen. Ron Alting introduced the resolution in the Senate.

"Given state budget deficits, I'm worried about continued funding for Reading Recovery both here in Indiana and across the country," Schmitt said.

"Reading Recovery has demonstrated that up-front investments in literacy save money in the long run. Not investing in literacy means we'll be sacrificing some of our children's futures."

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