Everyone should check out the article written by my colleague Kathleen Kennedy Manzo about a major federal report on the $1 billion Reading First initiative. Students in schools receiving grants from the program perform no better than students in comparison schools in reading comprehension. Many states use their Reading First dollars to implement response-to-intervention frameworks in their schools.
The interim report and Kathleen’s reporting suggest that Reading First has done a great job improving the ability of kids to decode words, but their ability to derive meaning from what they’ve read still falls short.
RTI is just a way of providing instruction, and districts have their own twists on how they implement it. But, in visits to schools, I’ve seen the kind of highly structured, scripted instruction on basic skills that this report points to as a potential problem area. Does such instruction get better results than less-scripted efforts? If nothing else, the report suggest that instruction in reading comprehension needs to get more attention as part of an RTI framework.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.