Yesterday, President George W. Bush, as part of his swan song, released a compendium entitled “Policies of the Bush Administration 2001-2009.” Not surprisingly, No Child Left Behind is the centerpiece of administration’s accomplishments in K-12 education, and the fact sheets detail the administration’s claims about progress.
Skoolboy’s favorite section is the one on Reading First. You remember Reading First, don't you? The program whose interim impact evaluation, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, found no evidence of effects on reading comprehension test scores in grades 1 to 3? The text reads:
NCLB established the principle that Federal funding should be invested in programs that have rigorous research demonstrating their effectiveness. Reading First has provided more than $6 billion to fund scientifically-based instructional programs, valid and reliable diagnostic assessments, and professional development for teachers. State data shows that Reading First students from nearly every grade and subgroup have made impressive gains in reading proficiency. For first grade, 44 of 50 States reported increases in the percentage of students proficient in reading comprehension; for second grade, 39 of 52 States reported improvement; and for third grade, 27 of 35 States reported improvement.
“52 States”? Maybe we should have invested a bit more in Math First.
Okay, cheap shot, there are 54 state education agencies (SEA’s) that received funds under Reading First, including American Samoa, the Bureau of Indian Education, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands.
But seriously: How did “44 of 50 States” report increases in the percentage of first grade students proficient in reading comprehension when, according to the American Institutes for Research compilation of Reading First Annual Performance Reports from 2003-2007, only 40 of the 54 SEA’s even reported reading comprehension proficiency for first grade students for two or more years?