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Teaching Reading to Struggling Older Students

Iowa Reading Research Center

The Iowa Reading Research Center at the University of Iowa is initiating a new effort to reach older students who are struggling to read. It will begin with four schools where teenagers have become disconnected from their mainstream classrooms.

Since its establishment by the Legislature in 2012, the Center has primarily worked to establish learning programs for students from pre-school through third grade. Now it’s going to help plan ways to improve reading for older students in alternative- and reformatory-school settings. The Center’s director, Deborah Reed, says she has a history of working with these vulnerable young people.

“If we don’t do something now, they’re going to be in a criminal justice system of some kind for many, many years,” she says.

Reed says reading instruction does not always reach this group of the student population.

“A lot of the effort and the focus tends to be on students in typical public school classrooms," she says. "We’re interested in providing support to students who end up in these other systems, as well.”

The first four agencies to receive support and training are Fort Dodge Alternative High School, the Midland Park School at Eldora, the Waverly-Shell Rock Lied Center, and the Grant Wood Area Education Agency's Shelters and Detention Classrooms in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.