Literary research grant
Kansas University on Thursday received a $10 million grant to help children get ready to read before they enter kindergarten.
"Learning to read is one of the most important skills children need for success in later life," said Charles Greenwood, who with Judith Carta received the U.S. Department of Education grant.
"Unfortunately, children with reading problems are often identified much too late," Greenwood said. "They fail to receive any special intervention until second or even third grade.
"By that time, they've missed out on important learning opportunities and have a difficult time catching up," he said.
The grant will be used to fund the Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood, cover a five-year period and include collaboration with researchers at the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University and Dynamic Measurement Group of Oregon.
The center anticipates working directly with 50 classrooms, including about 13 in Kansas City, in five states, Carta said.
"Ultimately, our hope is to provide tools and techniques that will improve children's odds of entering school ready to read," she said.
Carta and Greenwood work at Juniper Gardens Children's Project, which is based in downtown Kansas City, Kan., and focuses on improving educational development of children from low-income families. It is one of the centers of the Life Span Institute at KU.
They said their research will focus on identifying reading and language problems early, and then implementing intensive instruction.
Greenwood is a professor of applied behavioral sciences, and Carta, a professor of special education.
Greenwood and Carta said preschoolers can be identified as having potential problems in learning to read based on the size of their spoken vocabulary and other language development.
Extra instruction time and teaching parents to interact more with their children can help overcome these problems, they said.