Touro Law Professors Receive $125K Grant for Research from AccessLex

May 12, 2020

Professor of Law and Director of the Legal Writing Center at Touro Law Ann Nowak and Professor of Law and Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus received a $125K grant from AccessLex Institute® for their research project titled, “Identification and Remediation of Reading Disfluency as a Key to Bar Passage for At-Risk Populations.”
 
“The Touro community congratulates Professors Darrow-Kleinhaus and Nowak for receiving this grant,” stated Dean Elena B. Langan. “It is a testament to the importance of their research and the potential impact it could have for so many law students. We are grateful to AccessLex Institute and look forward to the study and results.”
 
Professors Darrow-Kleinhaus and Nowak will examine whether remediation of reading disfluency at the law school level will positively correlate with improved reading comprehension. The study is built on Professor Nowak’s 2017 study in which 45 percent of a randomly selected group of first-year law students exhibited problems with both reading fluency and reading comprehension. 
 
Professor Nowak summarized, “Remediation of reading disfluency has been tied to improved reading comprehension ability in younger students, and it is our hope that the same will prove true at the law school level. To our knowledge, no one has examined reading disfluency as an issue at law schools. Our hypothesis is that helping law students to improve their reading fluency will improve their reading comprehension ability, which will, in turn, help students to achieve greater success in law school and beyond.” 
 
Professor Darrow-Kleinhaus added, “Numerous studies indicate a strong correlation between law school GPA and bar passage.  However, we are not aware of any studies that have considered the link between reading comprehension and bar performance. We want to conduct this study because law schools have done a lot to aid students in passing the bar, but no one has studied how reading disfluency remediation might impact law school performance and thus bar passage.”
 
Ann Nowak is the Director of the Writing Center at Touro Law Center where she remediates deficiencies in basic writing skills among the law student population. Professor Nowak also was the Principal Investigator for Phase I of this study: “Oral Reading Disfluency as an Indicator of Hidden Reading Comprehension Difficulties Among Students in Higher Education,” for which she was awarded a Touro College Presidential Research Development Grant in 2017. The results of that study serve as the foundation for the current project.
 
Suzanne Darrow‐Kleinhaus is the Director of Academic Development and Bar Programs at Touro Law Center. Professor Darrow‐Kleinhaus also is the author of numerous books and articles on the bar exam and academic support for law students. She is a nationally recognized authority on the bar exam.
 
AccessLex Institute® is a nonprofit organization committed to helping talented, purpose-driven students find their path from aspiring lawyer to fulfilled professional. The work done at the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence® is dedicated to understanding the barriers that impede access to law school for historically underrepresented groups and improving access to law school for all, identifying actionable strategies and public policies to increase law school affordability and strengthening the value of legal education. Through their various grant programs, AccessLex Institute provides funding for research focused on their core research priorities of access, affordability and value of legal education; and, that complements our research and data collection activities.
 
“The work Professors Nowak and Darrow-Kleinhaus are doing aligns neatly with our organization’s belief that much untapped student potential resides just below the surface of blunt metrics like GPA and test scores that assume a common reading fluency and comprehension level,” said AccessLex President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher P. Chapman. “Their project will attempt to drill down in these critical areas. We are happy to provide this support and we look forward to seeing their findings.” 
 
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Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law is located adjacent to both a state and a federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Touro Law’s proximity to the courthouses, coupled with programming developed to integrate the courtroom into the classroom, provide a one-of-a kind learning experience for law students, combining a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty with a practical courtroom experience. Touro Law is dedicated to providing hands-on learning that enables students to gain experience while offering much-needed legal services in the community.

Touro Law, which has an alumni base of more than 6,500, offers full- and part-time JD programs where students can earn a degree in 2, 3 or 4 years and provides four areas of concentration Additionally, Touro offers a hybrid, four-year FlexTime JD Program combining online and on campus learning. Touro Law offers several dual degree programs and graduate law programs for US and foreign law graduates. Touro Law Center is part of the Touro College system.

About the Touro College and University System 
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/news/.

For more info contact:
Patti Desrochers
Director of Communications
pattid@tourolaw.edu
(631) 761-7062

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