Reporters may contact: Janet Ragland
SMU News and Information
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July 31, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Nell Carvell, former director of SMU's Learning Therapy Program, was invited to attend Laura Bush's Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development July 26 and 27 in Washington, D.C.

In Mrs. Bush's opening remarks, the first lady praised Carvell and LEAP, the Language Enrichment Activities Program Carvell wrote to enhance school readiness skills in Head Start children.

The LEAP program, developed with funding from the Texas Instruments Foundation, is rich in pre-reading and language development activities that have proven effective with preschool students at the Margaret Cone Head Start Center in Dallas as well as Head Start and pre-k children across the state of Texas.

Before Carvell introduced the curriculum in 1994, students from the Cone Center, located in an impoverished neighborhood in Dallas, scored below the 30th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). Since the implementation of the LEAP program, students have achieved median scores as high as the 94 percentile on the ITBS, despite no change in their socioeconomic status.

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Suggested photo caption:

CELEBRATING EARLY READING INITIATIVES: SMU's former Learning Therapy Director Nell Carvell, left, and Grants Administrator for Texas Instruments Foundation Ann Minnis, right, recently met with President George Bush during First Lady Laura Bush's Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development in Washington, D.C.