DODEA to cut first-grade reading program in Europe
March 8, 2009
An international program that has helped thousands of DODDS-Europe first-graders catch up with their peers in reading will be dropped from the curriculum next year.
Marc Mossburg, chief of curriculum for the Department of Defense Education Activity, said Reading Recovery was cut several years ago by schools in the Pacific and will no longer be used in Europe starting with the new school year.
And it might not be the only program to go in the near future. Mossburg said officials and task forces are looking at programs in all subjects to determine if they’re effective and can be used throughout the system.
"There will be adjustments made and it will be a little different from how we’re doing things," he said, adding that it’s likely certain programs will be expanded in some districts and other programs would disappear.
As for Reading Recovery, DODEA officials say it’s generally effective and the district doesn’t have to pay a lot of money in license fees. So they’re not trying to save money by cutting the program.
"It’s a great program," Mossburg said in a phone interview Friday. But he said students in other grades also need specialized help with reading skills. Reading Recovery is geared specifically for first-graders and can’t easily be adapted for the other grades, he said. So the 70 or so teachers who currently spend about half their day teaching it in Europe will instead be using similar programs to help students in several grades.
Officials said that some teachers might be transferred between schools or have to take new positions because of the move, but they didn’t expect significant personnel changes.
"We’re not removing the talent from our work pool," said Harvey Gerry, chief of education for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.
Teachers certified to participate in Reading Recovery receive extra training and generally work at a ratio of one teacher to nine students. That ratio will rise as the teachers, often referred to as school support specialists, work with more students in more grades.
Mossburg said that a literary task force — one of a handful studying specific subjects in DODEA — will decide what specific programs will be used instead.
"Reading Recovery is not the only alternative we have," he said.
Reading Recovery currently serves about 600 students in Europe, according to Gerry. Students struggling with reading participate for 16 weeks and receive individual tutoring from a specialist during that time. Lori Pickel, elementary language arts coordinator for DODEA, said the program is designed for first-graders testing in the bottom 10 percent to 20 percent.
According to the Web site of the Reading Recovery Council of North America, 75 percent of such students completing the program have been able to catch up with their peers since it debuted in the States in 1994. The site said that districts in most states are using the program.
Mossburg said he knows that some parents of first-graders who have participated in the program might be unhappy with the decision. "But if I was the parent of a second-grader (who needed help), I would be unhappy that my child was not receiving the attention as well," he said.