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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen presents evidence. Let's see if any ed reporters follow up.]

Published in Seattle Times

To the editor

The LEARN Act: An Expensive Mistake

There is no evidence Sen. Murray's bill to improve literacy will work (Murray's literacy plan a test of clout, May 11). As the Times notes, Sen. Murray's LEARN Act is a combination of three existing programs. None have been successful.

Reading First only helped children do better on tests in which they pronounced words presented in a list. It had no impact on tests in which children had to understand what they read.
The Early Reading First Act is for pre-schoolers. According to Education Week, evaluation of one version of this program produced "disappointing" results.

Striving Readers, aimed at adolescents, has produced only small advantages over comparisons.
LEARN also calls for vastly increased testing at a time when students are already over-tested, and it will cost over $2 billion, at a time when schools are having huge financial problems.

There is strong evidence that students make impressive progress in literacy when they have access to books and develop a reading habit. Students living in poverty have the lowest literacy development and also have the least access to books. If the $2 billion were invested in supporting school libraries and librarians in high-poverty areas, the impact would be substantial.

Some Sources:

Reading First: Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive reading instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74
Striving Readers: Abt Associates, 2009. Summary of 2006 Striving Readers Projects, Submitted to the US Department of Education.

Early Reading First Act: Education Week, 2009: Unproved early-reading program likely to prevail. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/12/09/14read_ep.h29.html

Libraries: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann and Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Stephen Krashen

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