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Published: Saturday, 12/28/2002

Report aims to help Ohio schools improve tutoring of reading skills

A state report expected next month will help the Ohio Department of Education and hundreds of the state's elementary schools improve reading tutoring programs, a state official said.

“We won't set the report on a shelf,” said Susan Davids, Ohio Reads executive administrator.

Ohio Reads, a favorite initiative of Gov. Bob Taft, awards grants to schools and community centers to provide reading tutoring for elementary pupils. Organized through the Department of Education, Ohio Reads programs are in 591 of the state's 613 public districts, according to the state.

Thirty schools in Toledo Public Schools have received Ohio Reads grants, according to state records. Other northwest Ohio schools with the grants are in the Springfield, Maumee, Washington Local, Sylvania, Perrysburg, Elmwood, Lake, North Baltimore, Northwood, Otsego, and Rossford districts.

Toledo board of education President Peter Silverman, a volunteer with the program, said a district-commissioned evaluation completed earlier this year found positive results in Toledo Public Schools' buildings with Ohio Reads.

That report, done by Bowling Green State University researchers, found students participating in Ohio Reads mentoring programs made more improvement in reading than expected during a school year.

“It looked like it was very successful. It was a very heartening report to see that the kids in the program seem to be making gains,” Mr. Silverman said.

The statewide report for the Ohio Department of Education is being performed by the Indiana Center for Evaluation at Indiana University in Bloomington. The first of its three phases, released earlier this year, studied the business processes and program implementation of the program, Ms. Davids said.

Some changes were made last year based on the report, which was released in February.

“It talked about increasing training for programs,” she said. “We've had two statewide conferences, some of the additional training we've developed was geared specifically toward volunteers to supplement what type of training they received from local programs.”

The report's second phase is expected in January and will further examine the implementation of Ohio Reads, suggest how to strengthen local programs, and make recommendations for increasing student achievement, Ms. Davids said.

A final report from the Indiana team is planned.

The third-year design will evaluate how Ohio Reads affects student achievement.

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