Reading & Literacy

With Reading First Under Fire, Supporters Rush to Its Defense

May 06, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The future of NCLB’s Reading First program is in jeopardy. It’s been a target of Democrats since they won the majority of Congress in 2007. Last week’s Department of Education report is the latest strike against it. The reading comprehension of children participating in Reading First isn’t growing as fast as that of children in a control group, the study says. For more, see Kathleen Kennedy Manzo’s reporting.

Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., who controls the federal purse strings in the House, wasted no time calling the program a failure. “Previous reports have shown that a political friend of the administration has a greater chance of raiding the Reading First cookie jar than the best program on the block that doesn’t have [a] special political connection,” Obey said in a statement.

Flypaper‘s Mike Petrilli rushed to the program’s defense by pointing to the study’s flaws. Sherman Dorn wasn’t buying it, calling Petrilli’s defense “about as credible as Hillary Clinton’s defense of her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war.”

Now Petrilli links to a long interview with Reid Lyon, who explains why he thinks the report is flawed and inconclusive. Here’s what Lyon tells “Reading First is the largest concerted reading intervention program in the history of the civilized world.”

He concludes that the report’s findings are:

not a cause for mourning and political opportunism, but a cause for deliberation and careful consideration of all the possible explanations—ineffective treatment, poor implementation, diffusion of funds, active treatment in the control condition, and many other factors. It is also a time to be very careful in drawing conclusions from this study and to be very clear about its limitations in making inferences about the success of the policy and the success of the instructional model emphasized in the model. It has been the bane of education to implement policy with very little research foundation and very little effort at rigorous evaluation. Change is hard!

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Reading & Literacy What Is Background Knowledge, and How Does It Fit Into the Science of Reading?
What a greater focus on content could mean for reading instruction.
12 min read
Open book with space theme complete with hand drawn astronaut and planets coming alive off the pages.
Reading & Literacy Download How to Integrate Writing Throughout Your Elementary Reading Program (Download)
Our resource can help orient your classroom, building, or district's approach to elementary-level writing instruction.
1 min read
Close crop of an elementary school, black girl in class focused on writing in a book.
Reading & Literacy English Teachers Should Teach More Nonfiction, National Group Says. Here's How
Nonfiction memoirs, essays, and journalism can enrich students' perspectives, says the National Council of Teachers of English.
6 min read
Hispanic school teacher reading aloud to her young students