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Getting Ready For A Reading First Let-Down

After all the hoopla (and given all the other things going on), tomorrow's Reading First hearing is likely to turn out to be pretty anticlimactic. (Plus which, they're holding it on a Friday, and the program's alleged mismanagement is offset by its apparent effectiveness.)

Reading First Paying Off, Education Dept. Says Washington Post
"That's the irony," said John F. Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy. "The program was poorly -- even unethically -- administered at the federal level, yet it seems to be having a positive effect in schools."

Hooked On Hysterics National Review Online (Petrilli)
If you enjoy political theater of the absurd, tune in to a House Education and Labor committee hearing Friday on “Mismanagement and Conflicts of Interest in the Reading First Program.”


How can John F. Jennings say that Reading First has had a positive effect? The study from his organization, the Center for Education Policy, only asked officials in states and districts that improved in reading whether they thought Reading First had helped. There was no discussion of cases in which Reading First was used and there was no improvement and no quantitative analysis of test scores.

Also, reports from Harvard and Berkeley have found that Reading First has not resulted in gains on national tests, and the achievement gap between high- and low-income students is the same as it was before Reading First.

Here is a reading list for Mr. Jennings:

Bracey, Gerald. 2006. The 16th Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Phi Delta Kappan 18 (2): 151-166
Fuller, Bruce, Gesicki, Kathryn, Kang, Erin, and Wright, Joseph. (2006). Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working? The Reliability of How States Track Achievement. University of California, Berkeley: Policy Analysis for California Education
Krashen, Stephen. 2006, Did reading first work? http://www.districtadministration.com/pulse/commentpost.aspx?news=no&postid=17349
Lee, Jaekyung. 2006. Tracking achievement gaps and assessing the impact of NCLB on the gaps: An in-depth look into national and state reading and math outcome trends.
Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

It occurred to me last night, while I was blogging on the Reading First article, that Reading First is nothing more than a bribe by the Federal government to get states to adopt scientifically based reading instruction.

What does it say about our system, that states and districts need to be bribed to adopt effective strategies?

I also figured out that Reading First spends around $600 per child, per year. To me this doesn't seem like an overly expensive price to pay for the results, especially since Reading First only covers kids until 3rd grade.

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  • Patrick: A very fitting farewell. So does this mean that David read more




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