Update on new IRRC program
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I am very excited to share with you the creation of a new program we think will have a positive impact on literacy for students who are deserving of focused help they often do not receive.
We have begun accepting applications for a very important initiative we are calling “Practitioners and Researchers Overcoming Problems of Literacy” (PROPeL). With funds generously granted by the University of Iowa Office of the Executive Vice President & Provost, the Iowa Reading Research Center will provide customized assistance to schools interested in working with us on addressing a literacy challenge. For this inaugural cohort, we have chosen to focus on alternative schools and juvenile justice facilities.
IRRC Assistant Director Sandy Schmitz and I have experience working with youth in residential care, and we feel compelled to reach out to these school systems in Iowa that rarely receive opportunities for proactive help. The students they serve have histories of school failure and frequently have endured trauma in their lives. Many have become disconnected from their schools in ways that make them appear not to care about literacy or overall achievement. However, through research with these students, we have found they care deeply about their learning. As one juvenile offender told me:
Some teachers, they don’t know that there’s people, like some people, they’d be afraid to let people know they need help . . . If you’re sitting with me reading and helping me, teaching me ways that I can understand my reading, I’m gonna be willing.  
It is not too late to reach students who have had difficulties in school and may have exhibited delinquency. Due to legislation in Iowa that has focused on early literacy, the IRRC has given more focus to grades pre-kindergarten–3 in our early years of existence. However, our mandate encompasses all students through twelfth grade. And because alternative schools tend to serve more adolescents than elementary students, this first cycle of PROPeL also presents an opportunity for us to begin expanding our efforts to the older students we are also here to support.
Click here to apply for PROPeL (applications Due Dececember 1)
We plan to select five alternative schools or juvenile justice facilities, representing different regions and demographics in Iowa. The participating schools will attend a May 2017 conference tailored to their needs, build a literacy improvement plan with the help of the IRRC, implement the plan during the 2017­–2018 school year, and work with the IRRC to evaluate the impact of the program on students and teachers. We want to stress that this is practitioner-identified research, meaning that the school gets to identify what literacy concern needs to be addressed in order to help its students achieve success.
Whether or not you are directly involved with the first cycle of this exciting new initiative, we hope you will follow along with PROPeL and think about how you might be able to help similar students. 

Deborah ReedDeborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Director, Iowa Reading Research Center

IRRC Website
Copyright © 2016 Iowa Reading Research Center, All rights reserved.

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