Teachers to Get More Training in Reading

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- More than four in 10 Georgia public school fourth-graders are estimated to have sub-basic reading skills, and some of their teachers may not be trained to help remedy the problem.

That's why the University System of Georgia is readying a 10-college program to offer the state's 85,000 teachers extensive reading instruction training.

State colleges are already ratcheting up reading requirements for students going into the profession. But the new effort, which will be launched this summer, is designed to help educators already in classrooms, from kindergarten through high school.

"In schools all over the country, we have problems with children not reading as well as we would like," said Jan Kettlewell, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University System of Georgia.

The most-recent National Assessment of Educational Progress test results produced estimates that 45 percent of Georgia fourth-graders were reading below the basic level.

That's a slight improvement from 1994, when it was 48 percent, but worse than 1992, when it was 43 percent. Nationally, 39 percent were rated below the basic level in 1998.

State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, who has focused much of the Department of Education's energy on reading improvement, said training teachers already in the classroom is crucial.

"It goes back to this big gap in reading instruction that occurred in the 1980s and [early] 1990s, when future teachers coming through the colleges of education were not taught the different methods of teaching reading," Schrenko said.

The superintendent added that such training is not needed just for teachers in the early elementary school grades.

"It's necessary because we have students who are socially promoted. Our worst reading scores are in eighth grade," she said. "We know we probably need to put reading back into the middle-school curriculum.

"We definitely know it's needed in middle school. We may need to revive the old reading labs [in high school] as well. …