National Researchers Praise Literacy Effort

January 29, 2003
Two nationally recognized researchers in child development and intelligence highly praised the Montgomery County Public Schools today [Wednesday, January 29] for expanding early literacy programs for children impacted by poverty and language and for creating research studies that will evaluate the programs' effectiveness.

Dr. Craig Ramey and Dr. Sharon L. Ramey, both of Georgetown University, joined school system leaders at Brookhaven Elementary School this morning to announce a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will fund new preschool Early Reading First centers at five elementary schools in the Wheaton Cluster. (See related announcements.)

“Even though [the school system is] already recognized nationwide as one of the premiere educational institutions in this country, it is thrilling to see that there is no resting on laurels here, that there is really innovation, breaking new ground, an openness to attach research to what you are doing, to try to bootstrap it, and guide it, and prove it,” said Dr. Craig Ramey, a Distinguished Professor of Health Studies in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown University. He specializes in the study of factors affecting young children's development of intelligence, social competence, and academic achievement.

“I can't tell you how thrilled we are to be part of what I believe will be a beacon for quality for this nation over the next decade,” said Dr. Ramey, the author of more than 225 publications, including five books, who participated last spring on the national Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Sharon L. Ramey, who holds the Susan H. Mayer Professorship for Child and Family Studies in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown University, said she was impressed with the new early reading program because “it acknowledges that we do begin learning right from birth and that brain power for children can be boosted.” Dr. Ramey is a developmental psychologist, and her research focuses on child intelligence and competency, early experience and early intervention, the changing American family, and children's transitions to school.

“The other thing that is exciting about the proposal is that it's about reading, but not only reading. Children who read are healthier and happier and better citizens. So the cognitive is combined with the total child,” said Dr. Ramey, who also serves on several national review and advisory panels, including those of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. “We are thrilled to be able to join you to help measure the progress of the schools, the teachers, the parents, and the children.”

Both researchers, who are married, also are collaborating with the school system and Dr. Reid Lyon, chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, on the development of more effective reading and intervention programs for at-risk children in preschool.

A multiyear research proposal is being jointly developed to examine the work under way in the school system, including the curriculum, staff development, formative assessments, and other components of the early childhood initiatives.

<<Back to browse