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IRA Says Don’t Shortchange Reading First Program

Reading First is not a perfect program, but it has increased teacher expertise in effective
reading instruction. All children benefit when teachers have the knowledge, resources and
support. they need to make every child a reader."

---Linda Gambrell, President IRA
Reading Today, January 2008

IRA Press Release
Immediate Release
Media contact:

Beth Cady, Public Information Office
Telephone 302-731-1600, ext. 293
Fax 302-731-1057
E-mail bcady@reading.org
Website www.reading.org

Donât Shortchange Reading First Program
NEWARK, DELAWARE, USAâThe latest nonpartisan report on Reading First,
issued by the Center for Education Policy, confirms what the International Reading
Association has heard from its members: Despite evidence of federal and state
misconduct and mismanagement, schools have done a good job implementing
Reading First programs and students and teachers have benefited. Cathy Roller,
IRAâs director of research and policy and lead analyst for two IRA member
surveys, expressed her hope that CEPâs report will have an impact on Capitol Hill,
where House appropriators are threatening major cuts in funding. âReading First
is having an effect and accomplishing its goals,â Roller said. âIt is foolish to cut it
now. Reading First problems were essentially localized and they have been
resolved. Schools and children need Reading First.â

Reading First differs from earlier efforts to improve reading instruction in the
critical early grades in several key ways. According to the U.S. Department of
Education, Reading First schools are more likely than Title I schools to schedule
uninterrupted blocks of time for reading instruction and to place struggling
students in intervention programs. They are also more likely to have a reading
coachâa reading expert available on site who can evaluate overall literacy
programs and supports, and provide guidance to teachers as they align their
teaching approach with evidence from reading research studies. In an earlier
study, the Center for Education Policy noted that 97% of Reading First districts
that reported improved reading achievement cited Reading Firstâs instructional
program as an important or very important cause.

âThe International Reading Association has been concerned since the release of
the Inspector Generalâs reports that the contribution of Reading First initiatives
might be obscured by ethics violations and intentional mismanagement. Reading
First is not a perfect program, but it has increased teacher expertise about
effective reading instruction. All children benefit when teachers have the
knowledge, resources, and supports they need to make every child a reader,â
notes Linda Gambrell, International Reading Association president and Clemson
University professor.

The International Reading Association has called for improvements in Reading First
that would better integrate scientific research about reading and reading
instruction with teacher quality and effectiveness. IRAâs proposals for reform of
No Child Left Behind are available at www.reading.org.

— Press Release
International Reading Association


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