"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, October 02, 2006

Reading First Crimes Hit Mainstream Media

Yesterday' WaPo had the first serious treatment of the Reading First debacle to appear in mainstream media. Not to be missed:

By Michael Grunwald
Sunday, October 1, 2006; B01

President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act was premised on three revolutionary goals. The first was to focus on low-performing schools and students; hence, No Child Left Behind. The second was to beef up the federal role in education, enforcing national standards through testing. The third was to bring facts and evidence to the notoriously squishy world of education policy, promoting teaching methods backed by "scientifically based research" instead of instinct and fad. This was the least-publicized goal, but arguably the most vital; the phrase "scientifically based research" appeared more than 100 times in the landmark 2001 law.

The centerpiece of the new research-based approach was Reading First, a $1 billion-a-year effort to help low-income schools adopt strategies "that have been proven to prevent or remediate reading failure" through rigorous peer-reviewed studies. "Quite simply, Reading First focuses on what works, and will support proven methods of early reading instruction," the Education Department promised.

Five years later, an accumulating mound of evidence from reports, interviews and program documents suggests that Reading First has had little to do with science or rigor. Instead, the billions have gone to what is effectively a pilot project for untested programs with friends in high places.

The rest here. Read it.

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