Education • Barbara R. Foorman

She’s helping kids to read, one letter at a time.

I STARTED WORKING ON IT as kind of a little sideline,” Barbara R. Foorman says. “But now it’s the major thing we do. And there is nothing else in the country like it or as accurate as it is.”

It” is the Texas Primary Reading Inventory ( TPRI), which was developed by the 51-year-old Foorman and her colleagues at the Center for Academic and Reading Skills at the University of Texas—Houston Health Science Center. It was introduced during the past school year and, in a revised and improved version, will be in use in 89 percent of the state’s school districts beginning this fall. It is a sort of test whose methodology is complicated and technical, but whose purposes are simple: to identify the kids in kindergarten and the first and second grades who are going to have difficulty learning to read, and to determine exactly where those difficulties lie.

The TPRI is the culmination of Foorman’s many years of hard work as a scientist. She is a precise, neat, confident woman who is so at home in the world of statistics and education jargon that she laughs and has

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