sealPurdue News

March 11, 2003

Purdue professor expert on early-intervention literacy programs

Purdue University education professor Maribeth Cassidy Schmitt, who was honored by the Indiana General Assembly on Monday (3/10), is concerned about the future of early-intervention reading programs.

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

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.

"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."

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

Reading Recovery teachers spend 30 minutes a day with individual first-graders. The students receive an individualized approach depending upon the 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. The state is one of the leaders in providing the early-intervention reading program.

CONTACT: Schmitt, (765) 494-5683,