Kennedy Krieger awarded $9 million to study learning disabilities in growing ranks of adolescents

(Baltimore, MD) -- The substantial number of today's adolescents struggling with weak literacy skills presents an urgent national concern, yet very little is known about reading disabilities beyond the early elementary grades. To address this critical gap in knowledge, the Kennedy Krieger Institute has been awarded a $9 million grant from the National Institute of Health (N.I.H.) to establish a Learning Disabilities Research Center. The new center is among only four centers awarded in the country. The Center at the Kennedy Krieger Institute will undertake projects to illuminate the neurobiological and behavioral underpinnings of learning disabilities in children grades three through eight. By gaining a deep understanding of learning disabilities in these children, more effective educational interventions can be developed to improve the country's literacy.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 33 percent of the nation's eighth graders read at a "proficient" level and as many as 41 percent read only at "basic" level. A basic reading level involves mainly literal understanding and limited interpretation of grade appropriate text. Drawing on the diverse talents of researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Haskins Laboratories, Educational Testing Services and University of Maryland, the Center will undertake a variety of projects to improve our understanding of what is going wrong in struggling students, and provide insights into how they can be helped through instruction. These projects will:

  • examine the word and text fluency of children and the ways in which they correlate with reading comprehension;

  • examine the effectiveness of Response-to-Intervention (RTI) as a way of identifying children with reading disabilities, and use MRI scans to determine if there are neurocognitive indicators that predict how children will respond to intervention;

  • determine how

Contact: Lauren Wilson
Kennedy Krieger Institute

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