Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Taft to push teacher training

Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — Faced with the prospect of thousands of fourth-graders being held back for flunking a statewide reading test, Gov. Bob Taft today will call for a greater emphasis on teacher training.

        Mr. Taft wants more teachers to take advantage of a summer training program that boosted the skills of 1,200 teachers last year in academically troubled districts, including the Cincinnati's.

        In his State of the State speech, which Mr. Taft will deliver at noon to a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly, he also will call for the state to get more involved in some Cincinnati-area road projects.

        He will propose that the state pick up 80 percent of the bill for paving state routes in all urban areas.

        Mr. Taft's call for more teacher training acknowledges the extent of the problem, professors say.

        “I think he realizes this won't be a quick fix,” said Penny Freppon, an education pro fessor at the University of Cincinnati.

        Under an initiative Mr. Taft will outline during his address, the number of slots available in the summer program would jump dramatically, to 12,000.

        The governor also will call for a summit of higher education leaders to brainstorm ways to improve the training of reading teachers.

        Expanding the summer training program would cost about $4 million, which would come from other areas of the budget.

        Mr. Taft's spotlight on read ing is a response to research that shows youngsters who fail to master reading skills are more likely to drop out of high school and end up unemployed.

        Moreover, this year's second-graders will be the first required to pass the reading portion of the state's fourth-grade proficiency test to advance. About half of last year's fourth-graders failed the exam.

        “Right now we're trying to make sure the kids can read by fourth grade,” Mr. Taft said recently. “There's still a lot of work to be done on that front.”


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