Imagine a reading program that blends Hopkins' expertise in teacher training and education research with the Kennedy Krieger Institute's cutting-edge pediatric neurological diagnostic and rehabilitation practices, a program implemented by the state so that it is at the fingertips of every child, teacher and parent in Maryland.
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Maryland State Superintendent of Education Nancy Grasmick announced a new partnership between the Maryland State Department of Education, Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger. It is called the Reading Institute, and it may revolutionize instruction in reading throughout Maryland. Its vision is to reach all children in Maryland learning to read, especially those who stumble early on.
"We believe this is a wonderful opportunity to combine our resources to address the reading needs of children and teachers in this state," said Ralph Fessler (pictured at right), director of Hopkins' Graduate Division of Education. "We are looking forward to developing programs in reading that are driven by the most current research and best practices. Hopkins' focus will include quality teacher education, technical assistance, research and direct services to children and families."
Each of the three partners in the Reading Institute will bring a unique contribution and expertise to this venture. The MSDE staff will play key leadership roles in school improvement initiatives, teacher professional development and implementing state policies. Hopkins will be a resource to professional development and teacher education programs. Kennedy Krieger will expand current research on the brain and reading acquisition. This research will then be given practical application in the classroom and in reading clinics for parents and children.
"This is an especially exciting time in mind-brain research, with new technologies offering opportunities to explore in areas of reading," said Michael Bender, vice president of education and legislative affairs at Kennedy Krieger. "Applying this research as it relates to classroom instruction opens new frontiers into how children read."
To accomplish its mission, the Reading Institute will provide technical assistance and professional development opportunities to schools and school systems. It will also provide direct services to students and parents, as well as conduct research throughout the program's development. It will draw on the reading expertise of K-12 teachers and principals, higher education researchers and faculty, professional associations and parent and community groups.
Details of the partnership, including the organization's structure, staffing, budget and operational goals, will be presented to the Maryland State Board of Education in February. The program is expected to begin operation by Sept. 1, 1999.
"This partnership is a remarkable opportunity, perhaps the first in the nation, for area leaders in reading instruction and theory to work together for children," said Grasmick. "The Reading Institute will provide leadership, meaningful resources and a wide array of services to teachers, students and parents in Maryland."