Education Letter to the Editor

‘Reading First’ Criteria: Which Quote Is Right?

December 12, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

G. Reid Lyon’s Nov. 15, 2006, letter to the editor describes a process of altering the federal No Child Left Behind Act’s efficacy criteria for materials that is somewhat different from what he described that process to be earlier this year. Compare the two versions of how Reading First criteria for curriculum materials were weakened, as described by Mr. Lyon first in an interview on Jan. 18, 2006, with EducationNews.org, and second in his letter:

“What we originally wanted in Reading First was that if you want to buy a program with federal money, it should have gone through clinical trials to be sure it is effective. But there weren’t enough programs that went through that level of rigor; so many programs would be screened out, and only a limited number of programs would be available. The [U.S.] Department of Education made the decision to make the criteria more general.” [emphasis added]

In his letter, he writes, “The effectiveness criteria were changed to the lower standard through the process of congressional negotiation and compromise, not by the Education Department.”

So which version is accurate?

Richard Allington

Professor of Education

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn.

A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2006 edition of Education Week as ‘Reading First’ Criteria: Which Quote Is Right?