May 10, 2004

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Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

KU professor to discuss adolescent literacy with President Bush Wednesday

LAWRENCE -- Don Deshler, professor of education and director of the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas, has been invited to meet with President George W. Bush and four other educators Wednesday to discuss the president's Reading First initiative and the No Child Left Behind Act.

Deshler and his colleagues at the Center for Research on Learning designed the Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) intervention program used by thousands of schools nationwide. In January, Deshler participated in a roundtable discussion with first lady Laura Bush at a middle school in Florida that uses SIM and has recorded improved reading scores as a result.

Reading First, established as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, directs that funds be dedicated to help states and local school districts eliminate the reading deficit by "establishing high-quality, comprehensive reading instruction in kindergarten through grade 3."

"While Reading First is focused on younger children, there is growing concern about the challenges facing adolescents who are struggling readers," Deshler said. "I've been asked to comment on the implications of the research of the KU Center for Research on Learning for addressing the needs of adolescents who struggle in reading and other literacy skills."

The meeting with the president is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Central time Wednesday at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.

SIM is an approach to teaching adolescents who struggle to become good readers, writers and learners. It is based on the reality that for adolescents to meet high standards, they must be able to read and understand large volumes of complex, difficult reading materials. Additionally, they must be able to express themselves in writing. SIM includes instruction in visual imagery, paraphrasing, vocabulary, and strategies to learn sentence writing, paragraph writing and theme writing.

More than 400,000 educators and 3,500 school districts have adopted SIM components, and several states -- including California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Vermont -- have implemented SIM statewide.

Deshler has received the J.E. Wallace Wallin Award from the Council for Exceptional Children and the Learning Disabilities Association award for outstanding research and service for at-risk populations.

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