Educators Will be Introduced to Reading Research at Reading Symposium

March 15, 2002

The West Virginia Department of Education will host the Reading Research Symposium March 18-20 at the Charleston Marriott. Bringing education professionals from across the state to discuss various topics on reading and literacy, the conference will introduce educators and the public to the concept of scientifically based reading research.  

The professional development event will allow West Virginia educators to hear the most current research results. The invited speakers will bring to the symposium their expertise that will allow educators to obtain an overview and sampling of the research findings. Throughout the three-day event, participants will be treated to various concurrent sessions on topics ranging from family literacy, Title I policy issues and parent involvement to teachers as researchers, reading in the content areas and the state of reading in West Virginia.  

“With a national call to combat illiteracy, the West Virginia Board of Education adopted seven educational goals, including teaching all children to read,” State Schools Superintendent Dr. David Stewart said. “The Reading Research Symposium will bring us up-to-date on reading statistics and the latest research that will help us reach this important goal.”  

Along with remarks by Dr. Stewart, several notable invited speakers will address the conference. Nancy Rhett will open the symposium with a keynote address on President Bush’s No Child Left Behind program. Rhett, an official with the United States Department of Education, will explain what this legislation will mean for the states and how it will benefit children not just in West Virginia, but across the country. Other speakers include Dr. J. Richard Gentry who will discuss guiding kindergarten-sixth grade readers where they need to be; Dr. Carol Lyons, from Ohio State University, whose topic will be “The Making of Mind: the Making of Reader and Writer: Insights from Neuroscience”; and Dr. David Denton, School Readiness and Reading Director, Southern Regional Education Board, who will present his program, “Teaching ALL Children to Read: SREB States Search for What Works.”  

Dr. Phyllis Hunter, an appointee to President Bush’s Educational Transition Team will close the symposium on Wednesday with her address “Reading is the New Civil Right.” Hunter’s resume includes a principalship at California’s Hayward Unified School District. She also worked as an elementary, middle and high school teacher. She later served as an administrator with the Houston Independent School District and managed the Reading Department for the district’s 282 schools, grades Pre-K through 12, and administered a staff of 52 with a $2.6 million budget. She and then-Governor George W. Bush worked together to implement Texas Statewide Reading Initiative to ensure that all children are reading at grade level or better by third grade.  

In order to achieve the goals adopted by the State Board of Education, West Virginia students must be the recipients of scientifically based reading research placed into instructional practice. Understanding and implementing reading research in the teaching of reading is crucial.

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