NRRF - Reading First is Working
Reading First is Working
"Reading First is the most helpful thing about No Child Left Behind and the most helpful federal program I've seen in my career."
Katherine Mitchell, Assistant State Superintendent for Reading, Alabama
- Reading First offers the strongest evidence yet that the federal government can improve student literacy by prescribing rigorous standards and providing adequate support to states to help their school districts meet them.
- Schools that follow Reading First's guidelines are showing steady gains in achievement for every category of disadvantaged student, in every grade of the k-3 program. They are closing the achievement gap by posting gains on standardized tests that significantly exceed the gains of schools not in the program. And they are improving dramatically with respect to their own performance in the years prior to entering the program.
- These results are impressive when one considers that Reading First schools were by definition the nation's poorest-functioning schools, with the largest percentage of at-risk students struggling to learn to read and the largest percentage of inexperienced teachers struggling to teach them.
- Compliance with the program's rigors and the resulting success has not been isolated but widespread: entire states have significantly narrowed the achievement gap between their Reading First schools and other schools in the state (Examples include AL AZ CA NY OR WA WV). The question is no longer whether Reading First works-schools that adhere to its prescription most closely are getting the best results-but how to prepare more educators to implement its approach.
"Our data is as clear as day. We can now say, 'If you follow the Reading First guidelines, you'll get results. If you don't, you won't.'"
Lynann Barbero, Director of Special Education, acting Reading First Supervisor, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Other impacts of Reading First include:
- System-wide adoption of Reading First tenets by a growing number of states and districts
- Progress in several states (egs. OH, TX, MS) to get teacher-training programs to make their reading courses more evidence-based
- Dramatic declines in many Reading First schools in the number of students identified as learning disabled
- Growing demand for effective curricular products, and publishers' increased efforts to provide them
- Unprecedented collaboration among state education departments on how to improve instruction for struggling readers
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