Reading & Literacy

Reading First and English-Language Learners

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 24, 2007 1 min read

While reporting for an article published in Education Week this week, I couldn’t find any reading experts outside of state or federal governments who believe that Reading First—the flagship reading program under the No Child Left Behind Act—is working really well for English-language learners.

When I asked U.S. Department of Education officials if they feel the program has been effective for this group of students, they pointed to what they said was progress in reading shown by English-language learners in some states under Reading First. Click here for the report that they used to back up that assertion.

Meanwhile, my colleague Kathleen Kennedy Manzo reported this week on how an advisory panel for the program finds federal data to be inconclusive in telling whether Reading First, which serves K-3 students, is working nationally.

Some members of the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee are pushing for changes in the Reading First section of the No Child Left Behind Act, and most of the reading experts I spoke with thought those changes would be an improvement over current law. In a “discussion draft” released in August by the committee, the Reading First section calls for programs that are “linguistically appropriate.”

What do you think? Is Reading First working for English-language learners in your school?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.