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[Susan notes: The author has a punchline that will be quoted widely.]

Published in Santa Fe New Mexican

To the editor

The goal of reading instruction should be comprehension at increasingly deeper levels of understanding and interpreting text, not to make Annual Yearly Progress, or AYP.

Reading First has straitjacketed schools into an assembly-line mentality where "fidelity" to "teacher-proof" programs and high test scores take precedence over comprehensive literacy development and true accountability. Valid assessments use a body of evidence to chart student growth over time, and more importantly to demonstrate what students can do with what they've learned.

Humans managed to become proficient readers for centuries without Reading First and its sophomoric parent No Child Left Behind. It's time to put NCLB and AYP out to pasture and return to student-centered instruction that is based upon how children actually learn, that honors teachers' expertise, and that uses real literature to teach literacy. Scripts are for actors and canned programs are for sardine factories.

Priscilla Gutierrez

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