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Project Title:The UCF/City of Orlando Reading Camp Program Institution Name:University of Central Florida Innovation Category:Civic Engagement Project Director:Timothy R. Blair, Professor of Literacy/Reading and Director of the Reading Camp ProgramContact Information:407-823-5472, timothy.blair@ucf.edu Website:
Project Description:The UCF/City of Orlando Reading Camp Program is a collaborative program in which elementary school children in Orlando receive free, year-long tutoring in reading by UCF education students.  Additionally, parents receive instruction on how to teach their children to read at home. The Reading Camp operates at two community centers located in the historical African-American Parramore Neighborhood of downtown Orlando.  Partial funding is provided by the College of Education, grants, and private donations.   
Objectives:
  • Develop, in reading teachers, the abilities and dispositions to be successful with children from low-income families in urban areas (evaluation of implementation of culturally-sensitive teacher behaviors and direct teaching strategies)
  • Improve the reading abilities of underserved children in urban areas (assessment through informal and formal measures)
  • Teach parents how to teach reading to their children at home (assessment through written parent feedback)
Outcomes:
  • Data support the hypothesis that UCF teacher candidates increased their abilities with respect to culturally sensitive teacher behaviors from the beginning to the end of the reading camp experience.
  • Quantitative data analysis results reveal that the UCF teacher candidates in this program gained statistically significant higher performance scores on the quality of their direct/explicit lessons than those students with regular university-based classroom instruction.
  • Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) results indicate that over 33 percent of the children tutored in the program have increased their instructional reading level by at least one full year upon completion of one semester of tutoring.
  • Parent questionnaires support the positive growth in parent knowledge and teaching abilities with their children.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:Now in the 11th year of the Reading Camp Program, funding challenges for teaching supplies and books, refreshments for the children and parents, and supervision of the UCF teachers have been overcome through small local and national grants and private donations.
Evaluation Approach:Individual research studies assessing aspects of the effectiveness of the reading camp program have been conducted by the director with assistance by College of Education measurement and evaluation faculty.  With a majorobjective of the program being the fostering of dispositions in teachers related to being successful with children of low-income families, studies addressed the question “Do the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of teacher candidates change as a result of being involved in the Reading Camp Program?”
Potential for Replication:The Reading Camp Program has the potential for replication. Adjustments must be made in relation to securing agreements with local authorities to utilize their facilities. This program partnered with the Department of Families, Parks, & Recreation in the city to utilize local community centers.  Hours of operation and staffing of the community centers are two challenges that must be addressed for smooth implementation.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:John Hitt , Presidentjhitt@mail.ucf.edu
(407) 823-1823
Date Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012