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MONTREAL, FEBRUARY  24,  2009-  A groundbreaking kindergarten early reading intervention program conducted by the Learning Associates of Montreal (LAM) is now fully funded after generous pledges from the Altru Foundation, the Charles Johnson Charitable Fund, and the Sam Solomon Trust Fund and the support of  two primary schools from the English Montreal School Board(EMSB).

The program's two sites, St. Gabriel Elementary School  in Point St. Charles and Westmount Park Elementary School, have committed to continued involvement and support for the work being conducted by LAM, a non-profit community organization that offers educational services for children, adolescents, and adults with learning difficulties.

Researchers estimate that  five to 15 percent  of children will struggle with learning to read and those who are unable to read by the end of first grade are rarely able to catch up with their peers by the end of elementary school. LAM’s early intervention reading project is designed to address that problem by providing intensive, evidence-based early intervention for kindergarten students at-risk for reading difficulties.

The outlook at the two schools has been encouraging, said Penny Bloch, a LAM learning disabilities specialist and reading teacher, and co-leader of this project.

Reactions from students' parents and from the schools have been similarly positive. “Parents say, 'My child adores your class,'” said Bloch. “And the partnership with the principals and the teachers has been very rewarding.”

LAM is hoping to conduct follow-up reading screenings of the students at the end of first grade to determine the effectiveness of the program in maintaining students’ learning over time. Two-year results would be released in spring 2010.

If the follow-up screenings confirm the encouraging results LAM’s reading teachers have seen in the classroom, the early reading intervention program may be extended to other schools' kindergarten classes in coming years.

The long-term goal of this project is to share the model and train teachers in phonics-based instructional methods that can be used for early intervention, as well as literacy instruction for students of different levels of aptitude within inclusive classrooms. The project’s other co-leader, Jessica Toste, was one of only 14 Canadians selected to receive a 2008 Fulbright Student Award. She is currently a visiting researcher at the prestigious Florida Center for Reading Research while she works towards a PhD in educational psychology at McGill University.

About The Learning Associates of Montreal
The Learning Associates of Montreal (LAM) is a non-profit community organization that offers educational services for children, adolescents, and adults with learning difficulties.



Penny Bloch
Learning disabilities specialist
Learning Associates of Montreal
(514) 989-9360

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213