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Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2003

Learning Matters

News tips about education from Indiana University

The happiest teachers are those who feel they have administrative support and consistency in behavioral issues, reports Carole Damin, project coordinator of the New Urban Teacher Collaborative. NUTC is a collaborative effort between the IU School of Education in Indianapolis and Indianapolis Public Schools to help first- and second-year teachers better adapt to teaching in an urban school. Initial reports indicated participants felt prepared academically and in building a classroom community, but they weren't prepared for the reality of many situations in the urban environment. Damin said the teachers are often asked to become team leaders too soon in their careers because of their strong curriculum and technical knowledge. "We will suggest to administrators that first-year teachers should not assume leadership positions in the school, but should spend their first year learning the nitty-gritty of running a classroom and completing the paperwork the system requires," she said. "If possible, they should be given extra planning time so they can take advantage of observing other teachers and mentors." For more information on NUTC, contact Damin at 317-274-6853 or

The college dream needs refinancing, according to education policy expert Edward St. John at the IU School of Education in Bloomington. While school reform has better prepared a greater number of students to proceed to higher education, low-income students simply can't afford it. In his book, Refinancing the College Dream, St. John examined higher education access trends of the past 30 years and showed there is less equity for low-income white and minority students today than in the 1970s. St. John blamed this negative trend on decreased availability of federal grants combined with tax credits that "don't help low-income populations because they don't pay as many taxes to begin with." Because financially strapped states can't afford to subsidize public universities, increased tuition has been the natural consequence. St. John explored alternatives to financing that would provide increased access to higher education for all Americans. "It is apparent to me that policy makers should refocus the debate over the public financing of higher education from taxpayer costs to principles of social responsibility and justice, along with economic theories of human capital," he said. "Improved coordination between state and federal agencies, expanded use of loans and better targeting of grant aid will maximize access for low-income students while minimizing increases in taxes." For more information, contact St. John at 812-856-8366 or

The Brock Reading Clinic has just completed its first Summer Reading Academy and reading intervention study. The Brock Reading Clinic is a community-based collaboration between the Bloomington de Paul School and the Teaching All Learners certification program, a part of the Special Education Program at the IU School of Education in Bloomington. For six weeks this summer, 20 students entering grades 4-8 with significant delays in reading attended tutorial sessions for one hour each day, four days a week. On average, the students were entering the fifth grade and reading at approximately a second-grade level. Tutoring occurred at two sites, the Bloomington de Paul School and Templeton Elementary School, also in Bloomington. The tutorial included an intensive, balanced approach with strategic decoding, comprehension and fluency instruction. In addition to the tutorial, students spent 30 minutes each day attending a book club, where they read and discussed popular fiction. Students were assessed for gains in reading skills as well as strategy use and motivation. Preliminary findings suggest that all students demonstrated progress in their reading. Students enjoyed attending the summer academy, and many expressed that they were more confident readers. Each student received a scholarship through the IU School of Education Proffitt Endowment that funded the study. Besides providing access to affordable reading diagnostic assessment and intensive intervention in a community setting, the purpose of the clinic is to provide opportunity for research into the efficacy of interventions for students experiencing significant difficulties in learning to read. The intent is to meet both community and research needs as well as the federal priorities as outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Studies in the near future are expected to focus on assessing the benefits of computer-based reading interventions. For more information, contact Genny Williamson at 812-856-8156 or