Waterford reading program to be installed in 244 Los Angeles schools

LOS ANGELES (July 19, 2001) – In 1998, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) began piloting the technology-based Waterford Early Reading Program. Over three years of gradual expansion the Waterford Program proved so effective that it is now viewed as the key to ensuring reading success among at-risk children.

Just ask LAUSD Superintendent of Schools Roy Romer.

Citing three years of proof that the Waterford Early Reading Program works, Romer today announced that he is expanding the program to all kindergarten and first-grade students that fall below the 45th percentile in reading ability – representing more than 81,000 students or nearly fifty percent of all children in those grades.

“This is a major commitment to change in this District,” said Romer. “It is like putting a turbo-charger on a car engine: we are going to accelerate reading performance in kindergarten and 1st grade.”

Romer unveiled his plan today in Los Angeles at Aldama Elementary School, which has used the Waterford Early Reading Program for the past two years and witnessed dramatic improvement in student reading ability during that time. This is part of LAUSD’s $44 million commitment to the delivery of a computer-based reading program. The Waterford Early Reading Program is represented throughout the nation by Electronic Education, a division of Pearson Education, the world’s leading education company, part of Pearson plc [NYSE: PSO].

The nonprofit Waterford Institute developed the program after eight years of research into how children acquire reading skills. Waterford concluded that the key to ensuring reading success is early intervention.

The resulting Waterford Early Reading Program uses technology to provide a multimedia and highly individualized approach to teaching and learning how to read. The classroom software is supplemented by take-home materials – books, videotapes, and audiotapes that children and parents use together to reinforce concepts learned at school. It also provides significant teacher training and a support component.

Dusty Heuston, founder of the Waterford Institute, commented on how technology enables Waterford Early Reading: “The computer can uniquely give consistent instruction, provide multiple opportunities for interactive learning, can keep records, give reports to the teachers, and generate research data. And so we have this huge benefit to support the teacher’s effort and to help make the child a successful reader.”

“Bridging the literacy divide is among our company’s top priorities, and we are pleased to be able to provide such an effective tool to our nation’s schools,” says Peter Jovanovich, CEO of Pearson Education. “The value of the Waterford program is especially relevant given national and state mandates to improve student reading performance.”

In Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush and other policymakers have called for a national education agenda that “leaves no child behind.” In California, lawmakers are considering legislation that would make kindergarten a mandatory grade level in that state. The move is regarded as recognition of the link between early learning and academic achievement.

“Now our classrooms are taking the lead in closing the digital divide,” said School Board President Caprice Young. “With Waterford, advanced kids can work ahead and kids who are behind can catch up quickly.”

In addition to LAUSD, the Waterford Early Reading Program has been embraced as an essential early learning tool throughout the nation, from Buffalo and Miami to Houston and Idaho, the latter of which is using the program in every kindergarten classroom across the state.

Notes

About Pearson Education

With offices in 30 countries, Pearson Education is the world's largest education company. Its leading education businesses include, Addison Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, Longman, Prentice Hall, Pearson Learning, Scott Foresman, Electronic Education, and NCS Pearson. Pearson Education is the global leader in online learning through its CourseCompass program (www.coursecompass.com), 2000 textbook companion Web sites, Learning Network (www.learningnetwork.com), NCS Learn, and the InformIT portal for technology professionals. Pearson Education is the global education business of Pearson plc, the international media group. For more information, visit <www.pearsoned.com>.

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