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Summertime, and the Reading is Easy

June 15, 2009 – School is out, summer is on, and many young students will spend it transported through story to other worlds. Yet for many others, summer is merely a pause in their ongoing struggles with literacy.

Thanks to a recent grant extension from the federal government, the University of Utah Reading Clinic (UURC) in the College of Education can continue to make reading easier for struggling students over the summer. Started by the 1999 Utah Legislature, the UURC was created to provide direct services to Utah educators and parents, including serving as a resource for parents by offering assessment and intervention to struggling readers and providing professional development to educators.

The grant, now in its seventh consecutive year, is funded from the higher education portion of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and is awarded and administered by the Utah State Board of Regents, under the direction of Dr. Phyllis “Teddi” Safman. The grant will focus on teacher professional development in reading. The new award for $200 K brings the total allocation of funds for the UURC to $1,978,832 million.

Since opening its doors in September, 2001, the UURC has provided professional development and intervention services to thousands of parents, students and educators in 33 districts. Children experiencing difficulties learning to read in regular classroom and special education settings benefit from an assessment of their skills and private tutoring intervention tailored to the reader’s level and challenges.

“The Reading Clinic provides the finest professional development, intervention and tutoring programs in the nation,” says Senator Karen Morgan. “Lives are forever changed there. Teachers finally have access to the most effective methods for reading instruction. Struggling readers receive personalized one-on-one tutoring to meet their most challenging needs. A long waiting list attests to the success of the Reading Clinic and the great demand that exists for their services.”

“The UURC has helped our daughter tremendously,” said a parent after an eight-week summer program. “She will now try to read text that before she would just skip over, or give up on. What she has learned about ‘tapping’ and vowel patterns has been extremely helpful. I also love the progress that she has made due to this experience.”

The UURC also serves the professional development needs of elementary, early childhood and special education majors at the U, who must take two clinical practica with the UURC. Those practica involve tutoring a struggling reader in one of the UURC’s schools. The education majors receive mentoring and coaching from the UURC staff and school coordinator who is trained in the UURC’s reading models.

“The UURC practicum was one of the most beneficial and practical courses that I have taken,” said a U education major. “To be able to incorporate what we were learning on a daily basis with ‘real’ students while having access to the immediate support of the excellent UURC staff was tremendous.”

Kathleen Brown, director of the UURC, explains that in all 67 Utah schools where the UURC has conducted an initial clinical practicum, educators have requested a second, third, and in most instances, a fourth year of training. “This is clear evidence that participants attach high value to the experience-a factor that increases the probability of sustainability.”

“If your child is experiencing difficulties learning to read in the regular classroom setting, he or she may be at-risk for reading difficulties and in need of additional help in gaining the necessary skills to become a successful reader,” says Brown. “The University of Utah Reading Clinic offers such services.”

The UURC collaborates with the following Institution of Higher Education Partners: the Department of Family and Consumer Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of Special Education and Elementary Education Certification Program in the College of Education. Their Local Education Agency Partners are Ogden City, Garfield, Murray, Iron, Salt Lake City, Juab, Park City and Granite School Districts.

For more information on the UURC, visit or call 801-265-3951.