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NCLB Outrages

Reading First is the largest concerted reading intervention program in the history of the civilized world

This comment is about assertions made by Reid Lyon here.

by Richard Allington

The federal study demonstrated the Reading First did not improve reading achievement. Period. So now we get lots of reasons why this study is not a valid study and the why the results are wrong. That is exactly what the Whole Languagefolks have been saying for decades. And they too provide lots of assertions and anecdotal episodes that WL did work, in their schools, with their kids.

Personally, I'm not surprised that RF did not improve reading achievement. What this study demonstrates is the same thing that a previous 4 large-scale studies have demonstrated: Nothing the feds impose improves anything. What is missing from federal policy is a focus on teacher quality. Teacher effects are always, aqnd always have been, larger than any program effect. But once again the feds seem to think that expert teaching can be packages and delivered via commercial programs. Hasn't worked before, won't work now. Training teachers to use packaged materials does not develop expertise in teaching kids to read. What the focus on packaged programs does do though is mightily enrich those folks who produce the packaged products -- while neither teachers expertise or instruction nor kids' reading achievement improves. Time to begin to accept a half-century's worth of federal research data and look for a different solution to America's reading problems.

— Richard Allington


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