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Professor takes aim at literacy education

By : Greg Norman

A University distinguished teaching professor is now providing leadership and instruction to an organization with more than 70,000 members worldwide.

Karen Bromley of the School of Education is serving a three-year term, ending in 2011, on the International Reading Association’s (IRA) Board of Directors, a position held by only 11 others.

The IRA, a nonprofit organization, assists literary professionals through a range of activities, such as advocacy efforts, research and furthering the quality of reading education.

“It’s the largest professional organization for classroom teachers and reading teachers in the world,” Bromley said.

As a whole, the IRA lobbies in Washington, D.C., to influence legislation that would aid literacy education.

“Almost every education-related bill is one that we respond to in some way,” said Victoria Risko, IRA vice president. “Either we have officers or members of the organization testifying before Congress or we have legislative committees with individuals that go and meet with senators and representatives.”

Legislation that Bromley has worked on includes the Striving Readers program, Response to Intervention program and the National Assessment of Educational Progress testing, all of which deal with improving the quality of reading education for America’s youth.

She also edits The Reading Teacher, an IRA publication, and will be creating podcasts and webinars for teachers on vocabulary and comprehension, an area of her expertise.

“I’m attempting to assess the kinds of vocabulary instruction that go on in schools and make a difference in the ways the vocabulary is taught,” Bromley said.

As a board member, Bromley is periodically called to speak at state-run conferences on literacy education, with one recently held in Buffalo and an upcoming one in Saratoga Springs.

“She is really in touch with teachers and responsive to their concerns and needs in the classroom, and provides high-level and energetic support of teachers and their professional development,” Risko said.

Bromley hopes to help move the organization forward in efforts to teach literacy to children in an Internet-centered age.

“I’d like to make sure that we begin to merge technology into the traditional view of reading print materials, because reading online materials requires a different kind of comprehension,” Bromley said, noting that students should be able to understand proper sourcing and factualness when reading material online.

“What is on the Internet can be published by anyone without any check of its veracity,” she added.

Bromley has taught several literacy classes at Binghamton University. This semester, in her Literacy Assessment and Teaching class, 40 graduate students have been visiting Johnson City schools to assist struggling readers.

“The students administer assessments, try to determine where the children’s strengths and needs are in reading and writing, develop lessons and teach the children so they can improve (their reading abilities),” Bromley said.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08