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CATHOLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS TAUGHT TO READ BETTER, RESEARCHERS SAID

Catholic elementary school students are taught to read better than their public-school counterparts, according to an article in the current issue of The Journal of Optometry by an Old Dominion University faculty member.

The study by Roger A. Johnson, associate professor of educational curriculum and instruction, and Rose J. Blair, a sixth-grade teacher at St. Pius X School in Norfolk, Va., is titled "The Visual Screening of a K-8 Catholic School." It is based on the vision screening of nearly 300 of the 410 students at the school.

The researchers found a "significant relationship" between attending a Catholic Elementary school and greater success on measures of horizontal tracking - the ability to read across a line of print without losing one's place. Catholic students made fewer errors on tests of their horizontal reading than did public-school students screened in previous research.

"Vision is an essential component of the learning process," Johnson said. "All students should receive a comprehensive vision examination."

Johnson has conducted research on the effects of vision on learning. In 2000, he was commended by the Kentucky state legislature, which based a new law requiring vision exams for schoolchildren on his research.

According to Blair, Catholic-school teachers model appropriate tracking used in reading instruction by emphasizing a horizontal, left-to-right direction flow in students' reading. Daily instruction in left-to-right handwriting may facilitate better reading, she said.

Also in 2000, Johnson and his research associates noted a high failure rate of students in public-school programs under Title I, a federal education program that provides additional money to local school divisions to improve the literacy skills of students from low-income families.

For a copy of the article, contact James J. Lidington in the Office of University Relations at (757) 683-4683 or jlidingt@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: May 22, 2002

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