TAMIU Reading Center Post Impressive Gains in 2004

TAMIU Reading Center Post Impressive Gains


Imagine making more than a year's worth of reading progress in just 17 hours. This past semester, children enrolled at Texas A&M International University's Hinojosa Reading Research Center averaged just such a remarkable feat.

Dr. Barbara Greybeck, associate professor and director of the Reading Research Center, explained the nearly 30 elementary students attending classes at the Center averaged 13.5 months of improvement in their reading skills, after receiving 17.3 instructional hours. She said the children represent a cross-section of the community and are from public and private schools.

"We test the students when they enroll and then again at the end of the semester. Based on the tests we use, we would expect children without difficulties in reading to gain one month in reading for each month of instruction," said Dr. Greybeck, "Our students, aided by small group instruction and the instructional model designed at the Center, are improving on the average at over twice the rate we would expect."

Greybeck attributed the impressive results, which have shown consistent improvement over time, to the unique features of the Reading Research Center and to the efforts of some very fine, experienced teachers.

"In addition to a maximum three-to-one student to teacher ratio, there is a great emphasis placed on nurturing and encouraging the students. All our teachers are certified and receive special training. Most are working towards Masters degrees in reading, early childhood or special education here at TAMIU," said Greybeck. She noted the Center serves as a laboratory setting for students in teacher preparation programs, as well.

She hopes the research done here in Laredo could impact the nation.

"National trends require measures of accountability and even though we do not concentrate on drilling for a test, we are certainly demonstrating success with our results," she said, "In other words, our results show how good teaching can positively influence test results."

Not all the news is good. The Center was created in 2002 and is funded through July of 2004 by the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Education, explained Gloria Canseco, associate director. The Center has since operated with tuition paid by Center students, and received funding from TAMIU's College of Education.

"We have applied for a U.S. Department of Education Reading Scale-Up grant which would fund the Center for two more years, but unless the Center receives financial support for the 2005 - 2006 school year, the Center will not continue to operate," Canseco explained.

The impact of the Center on the lives of the students goes further than improving reading levels, she said.

"At our holiday party, we had one student on stage who read to an audience of approximately 80 students, teachers, and parents alike. After almost every sentence, she would turn to mom and smile, posing to have a picture taken," said Canseco, "...This same student, during the first three weeks at the Center, wouldn't say a word and wouldn't make eye contact with the teacher. Now, she beams with self-confidence in her newfound abilities."

For more information on TAMIU's Hinojosa Reading Research Center, please contact Dr. Barbara Greybeck at 326.2923, visit offices in the Dr. Billy F. Cowart Hall, room 122 or e-mail reading@tamiu.edu. University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu