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About Sickkids
About SickKids

May 16, 2014

Dr. Maureen Lovett and team receive award for outstanding published work

By Kat Kostic

Dr. Maureen Lovett, a Senior Scientist at the Neurosciences & Mental Health Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto, has received the International Reading Association’s (IRA) 2014 Albert J. Harris Award.  The award recognizes outstanding published works focused on the identification, prevention, assessment or instruction of people who have difficulty with learning to read or write.

In March of this year, Lovett was informed by the IRA of her achievement, for a paper that she published with her team in the Journal of Learning Disabilities in 2012.  The article, called Evaluating the efficacy of remediation for struggling readers in high school, explores the effectiveness of a remedial program designed in the Learning Disabilities Research Program (LDRP) at SickKids to help teens with severe reading difficulties. 

The article evaluated the efficacy of the intervention called PHAST PACES, and showed significant improvement among participants who completed the 70 lesson program. This is one of very few demonstrations of positive results in programs for adolescent reading problems and suggests that it is not too late to address literacy learning issues in older readers, explained Lovett.

Lovett and her LDRP team designed and evaluated the PHAST interventions. The program helps struggling readers of all ages improve basic decoding and word identification skills as well as reading comprehension and fluency.

The PHAST interventions were published by SickKids in 2006 as Empower™ Reading, intended for commercialization and wider distribution. The program is now in more than 20 school boards across Canada, and the LDRP has trained and mentored more than 900 teachers, helping over 10,000 children and youth with reading problems.

Lovett shares the 2014 Albert J. Harris Research Award with her co-authors Léa Lacerenza, Maria De Palma and Jan C. Frijters. The award was presented during the IRA's 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 10-11. Lacerenza, a teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board and Director of Special Education at the LDRP, attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of the team.