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    Rich Vespucci
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For Release: May 24, 2004


Commissioner Librera to Receive Middle Grades Literacy Task Force Report;
Group to Present Findings on May 27

The Task Force on Middle Grade Literacy Education will present a report, Improving the Quality of Literacy Education in New Jersey's Middle Grades, on Thursday, May 27, 2004. The presentation will be held in the multi-purpose room on the second floor of the Rutgers University Student Center, College Avenue, New Brunswick from approximately 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Reporters and photographers are invited and encouraged to attend.

Commissioner of Education William L. Librera appointed the 19-member task force in November 2003 and charged it with: initiating a statewide conversation about literacy education in grades 4-8; producing a consensus document containing background information to guide future policy and practice as well as specific recommendations for action; and improving the quality of literacy instruction in grades 4-8. Since that time, the task force has reviewed educational research and met with panels of teachers and educators prior to developing the report.

"Governor McGreevey and I are concerned about student achievement levels for language arts literacy in the middle grades; it is a concern we shared with educators across the nation," Commissioner Librera said. "We are taking the lead on this issue because we need to act now to build upon the many reforms we are implementing in the early grades to strengthen language arts literacy. We need to seek out, develop and implement successful programs and practices that will sustain momentum and prepare our students for the challenges of high school.

"The task force is composed of talented leaders in their field," Dr. Librera continued. "I am eager to hear their findings and recommendations. We plan to use this report as our guide to make future determinations of policy, program, and staff training."

The Task Force on Middle Grade Literacy Education is co-chaired by Dr. Penelope E. Lattimer, of the New Jersey Department of Education; and Dr. Dorothy S. Strickland, of Rutgers University.

A full list of task force members is attached.