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Midwest teachers attend Groves Academy to learn how to close the 'reading achievement gap'

Teachers come from 50 school districts to take advantage of this center for educational excellence

St. Louis Park, Minnesota (July 17, 2013) – Educators from all over the Midwest and even as far away as Switzerland are honing their skills this summer in innovative techniques for teaching reading thanks to summer intensive workshops at Groves Academy in St. Louis Park. This unique 1-12 school, designed specifically for students with learning and attention disorders, is one of the few education centers in the region that provides such teacher training.

“Teachers are not getting it right the first time,” said Groves Academy’s Head of School John Alexander. “This teacher training is desperately needed for children in Minnesota and beyond.” He points to these facts:

• 2011 test scores by the National Assessment of Education Progress show 40% of Minnesota’s fourth graders do not read at a basic reading level—meaning they can’t identify words in print.

• Almost 70% of Minnesota’s fourth graders cannot read proficiently (with good comprehension).

• If a student with a reading disability is not identified by the start of third grade, there’s only a 25% chance that that student will read at grade level during the next nine years of school.

“What makes reading failure so frustrating is the fact that we know how to teach reading to all students—there are no secret ingredients,” said Alexander. “Traditional reading instruction in the classroom can leave children with learning disabilities behind—however, they only account for ten percent of the kids who are struggling. We want to offer a teaching method that is based on our 40 years of experience and measurement of progress, to help all children learn the skills they need to succeed.” Alexander is a national expert with a Master of Education from Harvard University specializing in reading and language disabilities.

Groves Academy’s teacher training is based on the Wilson Reading Systemâ, a well-researched approach used by educators around the world. “It’s an excellent program for teaching literacy skills for all ages. And part of our mission here at Groves is to promote scientifically based methods for teaching skills,” said Ellen Engstrom, Director of Teacher Training at Groves Academy. School officials say students who may have gained only a half-year of reading comprehension in one year at their previous school, can gain as much as 2-1/2 years at Groves.

Teachers attending this summer’s intensive 4-week program, as well as the day-long workshops offered at Groves Academy year-round, come from some 50 public school districts and independent schools. School leaders say the difference this training experience can make for teachers is dramatic.

“They feel that now they have the tools to help these students, that it’s opened their eyes to the true nature of reading difficulties,” said Engstrom. “They often say, including myself, they were never taught how to do this in teacher training programs. For every one teacher we train, then that touches that many more children.” Alexander says he hopes Groves Academy’s summer intensive workshops for teachers will ultimately improve the learning experiences for thousands of children.

“There’s nothing else in the Twin Cities or the five-state area that compares with what they do at Groves,” said Janet Oliver, a former education specialist at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, who has been an industry expert in learning disabilities and their related issues for over 40 years. Oliver says Groves offers teachers from around the country “tremendously valuable” classroom skills. “Just over the years we’ve learned that educating a teacher is sometimes just as important as providing a program for learning disabilities,” she said.

About Groves Academy

Groves Academy is a national leader and pioneer in educating students with learning disabilities and attention disorders, and is the only school of its kind in Minnesota. This premier 1-12 school in St. Louis Park was founded in 1972 and currently enrolls 240 students from Minnesota and across the U.S. Through research-based curriculum and personalized instruction, Groves Academy helps students with learning and attention disorders succeed in the classroom.

The school also functions as a key resource center in the Midwest, providing literacy training for teachers in more than 50 school districts and holding dozens of workshops annually for the public, attracting 5,000 attendees. Groves Academy provides diagnostic assessments for students from preschool-age to college, tutoring for 1-12 students, a summer school program for students from other districts and specialized college counseling for high school students and adults with learning and attention disorders.

For more information about the innovative work at Groves Academy, visit or to schedule interviews contact media liaison Robb Leer 612.701.0608.


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