FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melinda Malico
May 13, 2002
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today announced 72 Reading First review panelists who will be tasked with reviewing state applications for $900 million in new Reading First grants. The Reading First program will help states and school districts improve K-3 reading instruction and student achievement based on methods proven by rigorous scientific reading research.
"This group represents the most experienced and expert reading researchers and education practitioners from around the country," said Secretary Paige. "Members of this panel will help ensure that states have comprehensive reading programs in place, using instructional methods guided by the best available research, so that we can make certain every child is receiving a quality education."
State applications will undergo a thorough review by the panel, which was chosen by the secretary of education, the National Institute for Literacy, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. Those reviews will be used to make funding recommendations to the secretary and to provide comments and technical assistance to the states.
The panelists include those with expertise in acquisition of reading skills; the cognitive science of language and reading process; prevention of reading failure; scientifically based reading research; professional development; school leadership; classroom teaching; curriculum development; early intervention; psychology; assessment, measurement and evaluation; reading and learning disabilities; special education; management and accountability.
President Bush has made improving childrenís reading achievement central to his education reform agenda and has committed to helping every child learn to read by the end of grade three, Paige said. The president designed Reading First as the solution to poor reading achievement among U.S. students, based on proven research. Through Early Reading First, President Bush has also made acquisition of early language skills a focus of his administrationís efforts to retool early childhood education and specifically Head Start programs for disadvantaged children.
The program was made law this year by a bipartisan majority of Congress under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. President Bush has asked Congress for even more funding in his FY 2003 budget request--$1 billion--to fund the second year of the program.
Panelists will ensure that state applications reflect the statutory requirements including those based on the National Reading Panelís comprehensive findings that effective reading instruction must include a combination of instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. The Reading First program centers on:
To help states prepare to implement Reading First, Paige hosted state teams of policymakers and key education leaders at three Reading Leadership Academies earlier this year.
The application for Reading First state grants is available online at: www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/readingfirst/grant.html.
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