Even as the federal Reading First program may be headed for elimination, the initiative for improving the reading skills of preschool children is expanding to more locations. The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that 31 school districts, universities, state agencies, and local child care centers in 19 states will share $106 million in Early Reading First grants. The money is intended to improve early literacy and language skills in participating centers through additional professional development and instructional materials.
Reading First, the $1 billion-a-year initiative aimed at improving K-3 reading instruction, has been slated for elimination in the fiscal 2009 budget proposal passed by panels in both houses of Congress.
Early Reading First grants totalling more than $100 million annually have been awarded to some 30 applicants each year since 2002.
A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2008 edition of Education Week