Unproved Early-Reading Program Likely to Prevail
Literacy Bill Includes Pieces of Federal Program
Early Reading First never attracted the same attention as its cousin, Reading First, and proof of its effectiveness is elusive, but advocates of early-childhood education hope the federal government will continue to build on what participants in the grant program have learned.
When Congress zeroed out funding for Reading First—the program authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act for K-3 pupils primarily in disadvantaged schools—it increased spending for Early Reading First, which targets 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families. Reading First received $1 billion per year at its peak, but it was plagued by conflict-of-interest charges, and Congress eliminated funding for it in fiscal 2009. That same year, Early Reading First received $112 million. The Obama administration requested $162.5 million, an increase of $50 million, for the 2010 budget for the early-childhood program.
Many components of Early Reading First are included in a comprehensive literacy bill introduced in the Senate last month and also in a similar version in the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation could become a blueprint for reauthorization of reading programs—Early Reading First, Reading First, and Striving Readers, which targets adolescents—in the Elementary...
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