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Reading First Finally Makes It As A Mainstream News Story

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For weeks and months, I've been asking on this blog why Reading First wasn't a national (mainstream) education story -- only to be told over and over by my betters (Richard Colvin, et al) that the story wasn't big, or dramatic, or clear enough. Today, however -- perhaps emboldened by the Walter Reed coverage? -- the NYT finally gets around to covering the Reading First scandal (In War Over Teaching Reading, a U.S.-Local Clash), focusing on districts and states that opted out. Kudos to the trade reporters and publications who've been covering this closely from the start, and to the Times and Diana Jean Schemo for breaking the story out into the mainstream.

UPDATE: Not so fast, says D-Ed Reckoning in his post Schemo Gets Pwned, in which he and others weigh in on whether the Madison, Wisc Schools, Schemo's example of a brave RF resister, is really such a success story. Great stuff, including a response from a Madison board member. Thanks to Rory at Parentalcation.

UPDATE 2: "Pwned" is Internet slang for owned or used.

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D-EdReckoning, compares Madisons reading proficiency numbers to the NAEP, and shows that the districts gain, was actually a loss in Schemo gets pwned

“NAEP scores for Wisconsin show that the number of proficient students was 34% percent in 1998 and dropped slightly to 33% in 2003 and stayed there in 2005, the last time fourth graders were tested for reading. Students scoring at the basic level dropped from 69% to 67% during this same period. From the period 1992-2005, the achievement gap between black and white students rose from 28 points to 33 points and the gap between poor and non-poor students dropped slightly from 28 points to 25 points. So, NAEP shows us that the reading proficiency of Wisconsin fourth graders has basically remained flat since about 2000. (Go here and select Wisconsin as the jurisdiction.)

The Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test (3rd grade) tells a different story. The number of proficient students in Wisconsin rose 22.5 points from 64.9% in 2000 to 87.4% is 2005. Based on our knowledge of NAEP scores for the same population, we know that this gain was imaginary. What Wisconsin did was a combination of making the test easier and lowering the cut score so that 22.5% more students would be able to pass it. The result is that the mean shifted by about +0.77 of a standard deviation.”

He goes on to show how Madisons actually underperformed compared to Wisconsin.

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