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Debbie O'Leary
IU School of Education

Last modified: Thursday, December 11, 2003

Education researchers receive $4.6 million to study how at-risk children learn

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Education will receive $4.6 million from federal agencies to study how poverty, disability and minority status influence a child's ability to learn.

The five-year IU study is one of eight projects announced this week by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. All eight studies will receive funding from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, the Department of Education and HHS.

"For many young children exposed to risks such as poverty, disability and linguistic differences, entering and succeeding in elementary school will be a major challenge," said Otting Professor of Special Education Sam Odom, who will lead IU's contribution to the national study. "The experimental research grant will allow researchers to investigate the success of the Children's School Success educational model. This model consists of academic, social and individualization components that are well integrated and have a solid base of scientific evidence documenting their effectiveness."

Odom and his colleagues will study 600 at-risk preschool children in 90 Indiana, California, Kansas, Maryland and West Virginia classrooms. "The locations were chosen for their geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity," Odom said.

Children at risk for failure when entering public school are defined as 4-year-old children living in poverty, children with identified disabilities and children who are English learners. These children will be enrolled in Head Start and state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.

Also participating in the study are researchers at Purdue University, San Francisco State University, the University of Kansas and the University of Maryland.

To speak with Odom, contact Debbie O'Leary at 812-856-8031 or