P. O. BOX 2120

April 25, 1997


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Early Intervention Reading Initiative

As you are aware, the Governor has proposed and the General
Assembly approved an Early Intervention Reading Initiative, for
which funds, on an incentive basis, will be available July 1, 1997.
The Initiative consists of two components: funds to provide a
statewide reading diagnostic test and funds, based on the
composite-index, to provide additional reading instruction for
those at-risk students identified via the diagnostic test. 
Divisions who wish to use a local diagnostic test to determine
eligibility for services must submit it to the Department of
Education for approval.  (To ensure that the local test uses
criteria which are similar to those criteria used in the 
state-provided test).  There will be no state reimbursement for
local tests. 

Supporting Research:

The intent of the Initiative is to encourage school divisions to
use these incentive funds to provide a research-based reading
intervention very early in a child's education, which, if
successful, has been demonstrated to reduce the need for Title I
and special education referrals.  Examples of compelling research
findings that support this Initiative are:

     -    Reading deficits in many children can be prevented.  If
          diagnosed early and a research-based intervention is
          implemented, it is possible to reduce the number of
          children with reading deficits from 17% to 5%.  (Dr. Reid
          Lyon-National Institute of Health)

     -    From birth to age six, children in poverty have about 50
          hours of reading readiness experiences while more
          fortunate children experience about 1,300 hours (almost
          27x as much time). This equals approximately 38 min./day
          for middle class children as compared to 1. 2 min./day
          for  children in poverty.  (Dr. Jager-Adams summary of
          research on beginning reading)  Many of these children
          lack essential prereading skills such as "phonemic

Supts. Memo. No.  72 
Page 2

     -    Of those students who leave first grade without "phonemic
          awareness," 90% will be remedial readers in fourth grade. 
          (Dr. Connie Juel, University of Virginia)

     -    An  effective intervention of about 20 minutes/day in
          early primary grades can fix a problem that will take 
          hours of remediation by grade four to correct. (Dr. Reid
          Lyon-National Institute of Health)

Guidelines for Participation

Participation is voluntary and requires a certification to the
Department before receiving funding. Funding allocations for the
Initiative have been identified based upon the number of children
deemed at risk, using the  division's free lunch count and its
ability to pay (composite index).  Therefore, a local match
component is required.  Please refer to the attached funding
schedule for allocations per division.

The appropriation language specifies that:

     -    Funds may be used to provide additional instruction for
          those students identified by the approved Reading
          Diagnostic Test. "Such intervention programs, at the
          discretion of the local school division, may include, but
          not be limited to the use of: special reading teachers;
          trained aides; volunteer tutors under the supervision of
          a certified teacher; computer-based reading tutorial
          programs; aides to instruct in-class groups while the
          teacher provides direct instruction to the students who
          need extra assistance; or extended instructional time in
          the school day or year for the students."

     -    The instruction shall be based upon providing 2.5
          additional hours per week at a student-teacher ratio not
          to exceed 5 to 1.

     -    The incentive payments "are available to any school
          division that certifies to the Department of Education
          that an intervention program will be offered to such
          students.  Localities receiving these incentive payments
          are required to match these funds based on the composite
          index of local ability-to-pay."

To assist school divisions in learning more about the opportunities
embedded in the Early Intervention Reading Initiative,  the
Department will host four regional workshops.   Divisions are
invited to send a team of two persons to the meeting. Each site
team should consist of (1) a central 
office administrator who can make a recommendation to the district
superintendent relative to participation in the Initiative (i.e.,
a key instructional leader, reading supervisor, or Title I

Supts. Memo. No.   72 
Page 3

and (2) a kindergarten teacher or Title I teacher who has had
experience in diagnosing reading difficulties in a regular
classroom setting.   Due to seating and lunch limitations,
attendance for each meeting site will be limited to the first 80
persons who are registered by phone subsequent to the receipt of
the memo announcing the sites.   Please feel free to attend the
site/date most convenient for you.      Locations include:

          May 13    Abingdon            Abingdon High School
          May 14    Roanoke             Roanoke Airport Marriott
          May 27    Frederickburg       Holiday Inn South
          May 29    Williamsburg        Fort Magruder Inn 

Informational Workshops in May

The content of the workshops will consist of: sharing the results
of research studies outlining the critical variables which should
be measured as indicators of early reading success, examples of
successful interventions, options for designing interventions and
a identification of research-based components that should be
present in an effective reading program and details on how to
participate in the Initiative.

An invitation to the workshops will be mailed directly to the Key
Instructional Leaders, Reading supervisors and Title I
coordinators.  All workshops will be from 9:30 - 10:00 a.m.
(coffee/packet pick-up); 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (workshop).  Lunch
will be provided.

Further information about the Early Intervention Reading Initiative 
may be obtained by contacting Dr. James S. Heywood, Director,
Office of Elementary and Middle School Instructional Services (804)