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'Reading First' is Dead; Long Live 'Reading First'

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Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings wrote appropriators yesterday in a last-ditch effort to save Reading First. She cites the department's data on reading comprehension and urges legislators to talk with educators on the ground about the program.

"You may find, as I have, that the program has helped raise expectations and prepare students, including English language learners and students with disabilities, for academic success," she wrote.

The effort is "too little, too late," Mike Petrilli writes. In a new blog (via TWIE), reading expert Timothy Shanahan is already thinking about what can replace the program. This three-step process would be:

1.) Create a pilot project to find out what works. Searching through Reading First data might give clues to the answer.
2.) Encourage Title I schools to follow the practices in the successful schools.
3.) Use those experiences to change Title I policies so all schools in the program adopt such best practices.

Sounds sensible to me. Shanahan is one of the most informed and reasonable people in the reading debate. I'll be checking back to see what he has to say.

2 Comments

"Encourage Title I schools to follow the practices in the successful schools."

If it were only this easy. Every school is different, which is why Reading First might rock in one school and rot in another.

The scripted programs Reading First used were terrible but the best effects may have been the book study that teachers did.
Not that they learned that much but that they felt valued and powerful because of the process.

Reading First and particulary, DIBELS, promoted confusion,irritation and tears in our schools and big bucks in the pockets of Roland Good and his associates. I had 6 of my 2nd graders diagnosed as reading below grade level.
Five were bright, average to above average readers and one is Learning Disabled. The first thing I did was encourage the parents to have their children's eyes tested. Four needed classes. I preferred to do my own classroom remediation but sent my LD student to Title 1 tutoring 3x a week.
Five students from the other 2nd grade class continued in the DIBELS program.
By Jan., all but 2 of my students scored
well above the competant level. By the end of the year, all had scored in the competant level. The other class had 5 students who still were struggling in May. The next crime against our children that needs to be addressed is the monopoly and manipulation of textbook companies who add more useless materials that come at a huge cost and provide little in the way of sound learning practice.

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