One of the primary missions of education is to develop capable readers. Reading failure is largely preventable.
Investigators found that the volume of white matter in an area of the brain that governs the use of language was increased following a six-month daily reading program. Training poor readers to get better at sounding out words and comprehending what they read seems to have an unexpected benefit: a physical change in brain structure and not just function, according to a study published in the December 10, 2009 Neuron.
Scientists from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA, found that the volume of white matter in an area of the brain that governs the use of language was increased following a six-month daily reading program. Marcel A. Just, PhD, who conducted the study with Tim A. Keller, PhD said: “This is the first evidence for an increase in white matter in response to a remedial behavioral intervention. It provides evidence that repeated cognitive exercises can alter cortical connectivity of the human brain.”
In today’s society, the failure to read proficiently has profound educational and life consequences – it is the most likely reason that children drop out of school, are retained, or are referred to special education. Poor reading skills also greatly limit postsecondary school and work options. The importance of teaching children to read cannot be understated. (California Reading Initiative 1996)
Effective prevention and early intervention can increase reading skills of 85 to 90 percent of poor readers to average levels. (Lyon 1997)
When you combine this research information with the knowledge that teaching children to read is a fundamental responsibility of all educators, the effort and expense required to provide reading remediation is easily justified. Yet, with many districts looking at additional budget cuts, what can administrators do to balance budgets and provide effective reading programs?
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Source: Neurology Today, 21 January 2010; Volume 10(2); Pp 19, 23 – Talan, Jamie