$468,878 to USF College of Education for Innovative Reading Research Program

USF College of Education Receives Florida Department of Education’s Just Read Florida! Award

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2007) – A one-year $468,878 project awarded to the University of South Florida College of Educationby the Florida Department of Education’s: Just Read Florida! initiative will document and study improvements in reading skills that will lead to implementing and expanding the use of effective reading intervention programs. The grant will provide the opportunity for a study of Tune in™ to Reading (TIR) as a reading intervention for struggling adolescent readers performing at Levels 1 and 2 on 2007’s FCAT.

Over 1000 struggling readers in Florida have participated in studies of TIR. TIR is a computer software program that allows users to record themselves singing while sitting at a computer, wearing a headset with a microphone. This provides motivation and encourages struggling readers to keep on reading the song lyrics. Research shows that repeated readings improve fluency and comprehension. Studies have also reported significant Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) and comprehension gains using TIR.

“This grant will give us the opportunity to use an innovative intervention that may permanently change the lives of students,” said Susan Homan, Ph.D., Professor of Literacy in the College of Education at USF. Homan continued, “Struggling readers in high school may have failed reading, but they have strong ties to music. I’ve seen students really enjoy using TIR.”

The results of those studies indicated struggling readers using the program for nine weeks improved over one year in their instructional reading levels. The most recent data (2006-2007) from one elementary and one middle school in Hillsborough County demonstrated that after 18 weeks of use, the students made instructional level gains of over two years as well as strong gains in Development Scale Score (DSS) change on the 2007 FCAT. In a 2005-2006 study, students using TIR at the elementary, middle and high school levels demonstrated DSS gains of more than double the DSS gains reported on the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) website for their respective grade levels (FLDOE K-12 Innovation Conference, 2007).

Students selected for inclusion in the study attend either a large high school in Pasco County or attend one of ten juvenile justice sites in Hillsborough County. The goals of this study are to examine the effects of the TIR intervention on subgroups of struggling readers currently receiving reading interventions based on their 2007 FCAT scores. It is anticipated by researchers at USF that the results will provide information on reasonable expectations of reading growth for the instructional conditions and types of students participating in the study. The USF College of Education is ranked 48th (in the top 20%) of graduate schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report, is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is fully approved by the Florida Department of Education. The USF College of Education is the seventh largest public college of education in the nation. For more information on the USF College of Education, visit: www.coedu.usf.eduor http://itunes.usf.edu/.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

– USF –