Corrected: This story incorrectly identified one of the universities set to work with the National Center for Reading First Technical Assistance. The three universities to serve as regional centers are Florida State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Texas at Austin.
School districts receiving federal Reading First grants will have access to technical assistance for improving their literacy programs, under a $37 million initiative announced by the Department of Education last week.
The National Center for Reading First Technical Assistance will offer free conferences and seminars, professional-development programs, teaching and assessment materials, and consultations with experts to some 3,000 schools around the country that are expected to receive money under the reading initiative.
“Reading First provides multifaceted technical-assistance offerings to states,” said Christopher Doherty, the director of the initiative for the department. “Through the [center], the best experts are going to be offered up; ... the resources and expertise are not going away” now that all the states have received their grants.
After a competitive-bidding process, the department awarded the five-year contract for the center to RMC Research Corp., a research and consulting firm in Denver. Under the plan, regional centers will be set up at the University of Florida, the University of Oregon, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Mandate on Methods
Reading researchers at those universities have been key consultants to the Education Department in the design and implementation of Reading First. Some of those researchers have also been awarded grants by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health that has advised President Bush and the department on the reading initiative.
Reading First, which was created under the No Child Left Behind Act, provides about $1 billion a year in state grants to help raise reading achievement in the nation’s neediest schools.
The program requires state and local grant recipients to use “scientifically based” instructional methods and materials and to be able to demonstrate improvements in student achievement.
A version of this article appeared in the January 14, 2004 edition of Education Week as Reading First Assistance Center Announced