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U of M Profs Are Editors of Prestigious International Reading Association Journal
For release: Oct. 16, 2006
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Two professors in the University of Memphis College of Education have been selected as co-editors of The Reading Teacher, at 85,000-subscribers in 100 countries the largest literacy education journal in the world, published by the International Reading Association (IRA). Dr. Robert B. Cooter Jr. and Dr. J. Helen Perkins will lead that publication for the next five years.

The Reading Teacher is a pioneer in "research-to-practice," the model for educational improvements that are currently part of a number of education reform efforts. Classroom teachers at all levels, elementary to college, rely on the publication for teaching tips, examples of research application, commentaries, and review of books and other teacher resources.

The new editors say they intend for The Reading Teacher to address the needs of teachers in rural and urban settings. Under their editorship, the magazine will give greater emphasis to such issues as English-language learners, family literacy involvement, technology-enhanced reading instruction, and the connection of assessment to instruction. They also want to pay special attention to the education of children with limited cognitive ability, with severe reading problems, and with speech and language problems that affect reading.

Cooter and Perkins also hope to expand the diversity of writers and subject matter in the journal. They particularly hope to get more contributions from classroom teachers.

Dr. Perkins is the first African-American woman to hold the editorship of any IRA journal, including The Reading Teacher. She has been a contributor to the magazine, however, co-authoring an article in the October 2005 issue, "Evidence-based Literacy Education and the African-American Child," based on her research focus, urban literacy.

She has also published other articles, book chapters, and a children's book. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Balanced Reading Instruction, a special-interest journal of the IRA.

At the U of M, Perkins is an assistant professor of instruction and curriculum leadership. She is the principal investigator and project director for the Memphis Literacy Academy, collaboration between the U of M and Memphis City Schools. She also serves on the design and monitoring team of the Memphis Striving Readers Project.

Dr. Cooter is the University's Distinguished Professor of Urban Literacy Research. His primary research focuses on research-based reading instructions for children living at the poverty level.

He founded The Memphis Literacy Academy, an outreach program in the Memphis City Schools that is designed to raise the expertise of inner-city teachers of reading. He is co-principal investigator for the Memphis Striving Readers Program, a $16 million school literacy research project in the Memphis City Schools funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the period 2006-2011.

Cooter formerly served as an associate superintendent of the Dallas Independent School System, where he engineered that district's highly acclaimed Dallas Reading Plan that involved the training of almost 3,000 teachers in "comprehensive literacy instruction." As a result of the success of that initiative, he was honored by then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.

He is the author of 19 books about reading education and nearly 100 journal articles. He is a native of Nashville. His wife, Dr. Kathleen Spencer Cooter, is also a professor and researcher with the University of Memphis College of Education.

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