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NCLB Outrages

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Why It Should be Eliminated

Based on a presentation to
the North Orange County Democratic Club, this
is a clear, straightforward description of NCLB
that everyone--even the New York Times
editorial board--should be able to understand.

by Stephen Krashen

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has two major
components: A testing program and a reading
program. The reading program is called Reading
First. States are only required to participate
in NCLB if they want federal funding in
implementing it. This is true of all federal
contributions to education, not just NCLB.

The Testing Component of NCLB and "Standards-
Based Reform"

NCLB requires children be tested annually in
reading and math, in grades 3 through 8 and one
time in high school. The testing program is
based on the idea that if we have clear and
high standards, students and teachers will rise
to the occasion. This is called "Standards-
Based Reform."

Each state makes or selects its own tests. The
following companies get about 90% of the
testing business from the states: CTB/McGraw-
Hill, Educational Testing Service, Harcourt
Assessment, Pearson Educational Measurement and
Riverside Publishing.

What's wrong with accountability?

Defenders of NCLB occasionally accuse critics
of being opposed to any testing or any form of
accountability. Not so. Every professional in
education understands the importance of
assessment. The critics of NCLB are not opposed
to tests, but are opposed to the amount and
kind of testing done.

Some principles of assessment: NUT

Here are some common-sense principles of
assessment. The first is that we should test no
more than we have do, in other words, No
Unnecesary Testing (this is easy to remember:

This means that we should only use tests that
actually contribute to evaluation and learning.
We should not use tests that encourage "test
preparation," that is, teaching children
strategies that will boost their test scores
without any real learning taking place (e.g.
knowing which questions to skip, when to guess,

The NUT principle also means that we should
have some way of determining if a test is
really doing its job: Is it giving teachers and
students needed information? Does it do what
"Standards-Based Reform" asks it to do, that
is, push students to higher levels of
performance and greater learning?

Finally, if a test is working, can we do as
well with less testing? Can we reduce the
amount of testing and get the same results?

Does NCLB testing help teaching and learning?

NCLB tests are rarely used as diagnostic tests,
that is, tests that tell teachers where
students need more help. This is because
results are not reported until the summer, and
there are too few items on any topic.

High Stakes Testing

NCLB testing is "high stakes": This means that
punishments and rewards are attached to test
results. In the case of NCLB, there are about
twice as many punishments as rewards.

The list of punishments includes: public
humiliation (publishing school and district
test scores), closing down or reconstituting
schools, replacing teachers and administrators,
pay cuts or denial of raises, termination,
teachers not getting tenure.

Does high stakes testing work?

Several studies have been done to see if high
stakes testing results in better academic
achievement. The usual method is to see
whether states with high stakes testing do
better on national exams of math and reading
(NAEP) than states without high stakes testing.

So far, studies show that "high stakes" states
do not do better on NAEP reading tests and
results for math are mixed. When results favor
high stakes tests in math, in some cases the
advantage is very modest. In one study,
children in high accountability states gained
less than one percent more than those in low
accountability states between grades four and
eight in math. In another study, researchers
found a clear advantage for high accountability
states in grade 8 math, but the difference was
less in grade 4.

There is, in other words, no consistent
evidence that high-stakes tests result in
better academic achievement.

Using teacher evaluation

There is reason to believe that teacher
evaluation (grades) is a better way of
evaluating students than standardized tests.

Let's consider the most common complaints about
NCLB testing. Teacher evaluation easily deals
with each one.

Too narrow: The complaint is that NCLB tests
only math and English, neglecting other
subjects. Teacher evaluation covers all

Not matched to the curriculum: NCLB tests often
do not correspond to what is covered in class.
Teacher evaluation is automatically matched to
what is covered in class.

Does not reflect improvement: NCLB tests only
show us where a child is at the moment the
child is tested. Teacher evaluation, because it
is frequent, can easily show whether a child is
improving relative to expectations.

Only a single measure: an NCLB year-end test is
only one measure, and we cannot base evaluation
on only one measure. Teacher evaluations are
multiple measures, as they are done more than
once a year.

Finally, teacher evaluations are done by
professionals who know the children very well,
not by distant strangers.

Evidence supporting teacher evaluation

A recent study showed that high school grades
in college preparatory courses are a better
predictor of achievement in college and four-
year college graduation rates than was a
standardized test (the SAT). Also, adding SAT
scores to grades did not provide much more
information than grades alone, which suggests
that we may not need standardized tests at all.

Don't we need standardized tests to make

We already have a standardized test that does
this job very well: The NAEP, which we briefly
mentioned above. The NAEP is given every few
years to small samples of students, and each
student who takes the test takes only a part of
it. From this, an accurate estimate of the
achievement of larger groups (the entire
country, states, high vs. low-income families,
etc.) can be made. The NAEP is intended to be
a low-stakes test.

Reading and Reading First

The reading part of NCLB is Reading First,
which involves about 2 million children per
year. It is aimed at high poverty children.
Everything is wrong about Reading First: It is
based on an incorrect theory, the research
supporting the theory is flawed, and there is a
great deal of evidence showing that Reading
First doesn't work.


Reading First is based on Skill-Building, the
idea that we learn language and develop
literacy by first consciously learning the
rules ("the âs goes on the third person
singular," "when two vowels go walking the
first does the talking"), we "automatize" the
rules by speaking and writing, and adjust our
knowledge of consciously learned rules by
getting our errors corrected.

The Skill-Building position on reading is that
we learn to read by first learning to recognize
sounds (phonemic awareness), then learn the
rules that connect sounds and letters
(phonics), then learn to read words, then
sentences and paragraphs, and eventually real

Notice that the Skill-Building position is a
delayed gratification hypothesis: Work hard and
someday you can actually read real texts.

For many people, Skill-Building sounds like
common sense. If it isn't true, how do children
learn to read? The answer is simple.


Children learn to read, and become better
readers, by understanding what is on the page.
In other words, we learn to read by reading.
Also, reading for meaning is the major source
of our competence in literate language: reading
is the way we acquire (subconsciously absorb)
vocabulary, spelling, writing and grammatical

We donât just leave children alone with books:
Teachers help children understand what is
written by teaching them basic phonics (see
below), telling them about the story and
reading aloud to them.

The Skill-Building hypothesis is the basis for
"intensive systematic phonics" and the
Comprehension hypothesis is the basis of "whole

"Intensive systematic phonics" and "basic

A major cause of misunderstanding is the word
"phonics." "Intensive systematic phonics" is
not the kind of phonics teaching most people
are familiar with. It means teaching all the
major phonics rules in a strict order.

For most people, "phonics" means "basic
phonics": Teaching the common and straight-
forward rules that relate letters and sounds,
rules that most people easily remember, without
worrying too much about what order they are
taught in.

Intensive systematic phonics is an extremist
position that very few professionals support.
This extremist position has been adopted by
Reading First.

What is wrong with intensive phonics?

Any approach that says we have to teach all the
major rules of phonics runs into trouble when
we consider the system that has to be learned.
Rules of phonics beyond the basics are complex
and have numerous exceptions.

Frank Smith's example is a good one: Consider
this list of words: hot, hoot, hook, hour,
honest, house, hope, honey, hoist. They all
start with "ho" but in each case "ho" is
pronounced differently! Ask any of your friends
if they can explain why.

To give you an idea of how complex phonics
rules can get, here is a rule recommended by
one phonics expert for words that contain the
letters "a" and "e" (like "made'). "The a-e
combination is pronounced with the long vowel
and the final e silent, except when the final
syllable is unaccented - then the vowel is
pronounced with a short-i sound, as in
"palace," or the combination as in "are," with
words such as "have" and "dance" as exceptions.
Got it?

Teachers who teach phonics have told me that
they sometimes have to review the rules before
class: If a teacher who has taught these rules
for years can't remember the rules, how can we
expect a six-year old to remember them?

In addition, phonics rules beyond the basics
don't work very well: They have numerous
exceptions. Over 40 years ago, Clymer attempted
to determine if the phonics rules taught in
school really worked. He considered 45 rules
taught in widely used reading programs and
looked to see how well the rules worked in
words from reading series connected to the
texts. The rules had numerous exceptions.

Here is one example, probably the most famous
English phonics rule of all time: When two
vowels go walking, the first does the talking
(When there are two vowels side by side, the
long sound of the first one is heard and the
second is usually silent, example: bead.)
Clymer found that this rule worked in only 45%
of the words that had two vowels side by side
(e.g. chief).

Clymer's work has been replicated by a number
of researchers since 1966.

Clymer also reported that different texts
included different rules! How could intensive
systematic phonics be necessary for learning to
read when much of it is not even taught?

Studies of intensive, systematic phonics

The complexity argument presented in the last
section is a very powerful and serious
argument, but was ignored by the National
Reading Panel report, which focused only on
experimental studies. The National Reading
Panel was a committee of reading experts
assigned the task of reviewing the research and
making generalizations about it. As Panel
member Joanne Yatvin has described, however,
most members of the panel were firmly committed
to the Skill-Building view before the panel
even met.

The report of the National Reading Panel is the
basis for the approach taken by Reading First.

The panel concluded that âintensive systematic
phonicsâ was superior to methods using less
intensive approaches to phonics.

Researcher Elaine Garan has pointed out,
however, that according to the National Reading
Panel's own report, this effect is limited to
tests in which children pronounce printed words
presented to them on a list. Garan reported
that the effect of phonics instruction is much
weaker on tests in which children have to read
texts and understand what they read.

The panel also concluded that intensive,
systematic phonics was more effective than
whole language, but they made no effort to
define whole language: If the authors of a
study called a method "whole language," the
panel classified it as "whole language."

What counts, of course, is not what something
is called, but what is actually taking place,
in this case, the amount of real reading done.
Re-analysis revealed that classes in which more
real reading was done were superior to those in
which less reading was done: In other words,
the results were opposite to the conclusions of
the National Reading Panel. This result is
consistent with a great deal of other evidence
from studies of older readers showing that
actual reading itself is a good predictor of
reading achievement scores, and that classes in
which more reading is done are more effective
than those in which less reading is done.

Should phonics be taught at all?

Teaching phonics, that is, helping children
consciously learn rules relating letters and
sounds, has limited value, but knowledge of
some simple phonics rules can occasionally make
texts more comprehensible.

Frank Smith provides this example. The child is
reading the sentence, "The man was riding on
the h â¦.." and is not able to read the last
word. If the child understands the rest of the
sentence, and knows about the letter "h" it is
not hard to figure out what the last word is.
(The last word could of course be "Harley." In
this case, context and the knowledge of the
initial consonant helped reduce the
possibilities of what the last word could be,
which is a great help in understanding text.)

As we have seen, however, there are severe
limits on how much phonics can be taught and
learned because the rules are complex and often
don't work well. What needs to be determined is
what rules can be easily taught and learned
(the first step in doing this should be to
consult experienced teachers).

Although some knowledge of the simpler, or
basic rules of phonics can be of use, most of
our knowledge of phonics, as Frank Smith has
pointed out, is the result of reading, not the

This is not a radical view. In 1985, a book
appeared that phonics proponents greeted
enthusiastically, Becoming a Nation of Readers.
Phonics supporters claimed that it strongly
endorsed the teaching of phonics. They didn't
read the book carefully. The position it stated
is identical to what is described here as basic

ââ¦phonics instruction should aim to teach only
the most important and regular of letter-to-
sound relationships ⦠once the basic
relationships have been taught, the best way to
get children to refine and extend their
knowledge of letter-sound correspondences is
through repeated opportunities to read. If this
position is correct, then much phonics
instruction is overly subtle and probably
unproductiveâ (p. 38).

Why the confusion

Here is the problem. When Reading First, and
some major publishers, talk about phonics, they
are referring to intensive, systematic phonics.
The public thinks they are talking about basic

The public has been told that whole language
forbids the teaching of any phonics. This is
false. Whole language, like the public,
supports basic phonics.

Research on Reading First

For several years, President Bush and Education
Secretary Margaret Spellings have been telling
the American public that reading scores are at
an "all time highs," referring specifically to
fourth grade NAEP scores, suggesting that NCLB
deserves the credit for this accomplishment. A
brief look at the data, however, shows that
nearly all the improvement took place before
Reading First/ NCLB was implemented (2002-3):

NAEP scores:
1998: 215
2000: 213
2002: 219
2003: 218
2005: 219
2007: 221

A look at the data also reveals, despite
statements from the Bush administration to the
contrary, that the gap between children from
high- and low-income families has not narrowed.
In 2003, the gap was 30 points on the fourth
grade NAEP reading examination, and in 2007, it
was nearly the same, 29 points.

On the most recent PIRLS reading test (Progress
in International Reading Literacy Study)
(PIRLS), American fourth graders scored
slightly lower in 2006, several years after
NCLB was implemented (2002-2003) than they did
in 2001, two years before it was implemented.
In a press release (November 28, 2007),
Secretary of Education Spellings attributed
this to too few children being tested, still
claiming that we are âseeing progressâ under
NCLB on the NAEP test. Five thousand children
were tested, more than enough to get an
accurate estimate of overall competence. (NAEP
scores for individual states are considered to
be reliable: About 5000 children in each state
take the NAEP.)

Higher scores at grade levels on state tests
since the implementation of Reading First have
been interpreted as evidence for its
effectiveness, but improvement was present
before Reading First, and a number of studies
have shown that Reading First did not increase
the rate of improvement.

The Reading First Impact Study

The Reading First Impact Study, released April
30, 2008, showed that Reading First was less
effective than the comparison methods on a test
of reading comprehension. Reading First
students had an additional 10 minutes per day
of instruction on the elements of reading that
Reading First assumed were crucial (derived
from the National Reading Panel report). That's
the equivalent of an extra six weeks of reading
instruction every year (assuming an hour a day
spent on reading in the regular school day).

Even if Reading First were only mildly
effective, the extra time should result in
higher reading scores. It didn't. This means
that time was taken from other subjects and
activities, as well as recess, and students got
nothing in return. This must be one of the
great failures of educational research.

Some Suggestions: Testing

My suggestions are conservative. Based on what
we know now, we should drop the annual testing
required by NCLB and rely on teacher evaluation
and the NAEP.

An even more conservative (but more expensive)
approach is to do additional studies to
determine whether testing is helping. If it is
helping, we can then gradually cut back the
amount of testing done to find the minimum
amount that helps. Even a small reduction in
testing time means a lot. If we test 25
million children each year in the US, and we
reduce the testing load only five minutes, that
saves about 225 years of student time each

Making things worse

The usual approaches to improving the NCLB
testing program are to add tests in other
subjects and to make tests sensitive to student
improvement. In my view, either or both of
these would make things worse.

Adding more tests, in subjects such as science
(which has already begun), social studies, and
even physical education, adds more testing to
already severely over-tested students, as well
as an additional financial burden. Making
tests sensitive to student improvement is an
extremely ambitious undertaking, one that has
never been done on a large scale. Most
important, both steps are unnecessary: As
argued earlier, teacher evaluation covers all
subjects and can easily reflect improvement.

Some Suggestions: Reading

Eliminate Reading First.

We do not need Reading First to make sure all
children get basic phonics. Basic phonics has
never been forbidden in American schools.

Invest in libraries in high-poverty areas.

A productive strategy to improve literacy is to
invest in school and public libraries in high-
poverty areas. Here is a simple four-part
argument supporting this proposal.

Part One: More reading, especially self-
selected voluntary reading, leads to higher
levels of literacy (reading, writing, grammar,
spelling, vocabulary). This has been confirmed
in several different ways:

⢠Studies of in-class "sustained silent
reading": Students in classes in which a short
time period is set aside for self-selected
reading, with no or little accountability (e.g.
no book reports or quizzes on what was read),
typically make better gains in reading
comprehension than students in similar classes
that do not include sustained silent reading.
⢠Correlational studies show that those
who report reading more also show better
literacy development.
⢠Case histories of those who have
developed high levels of literacy suggest that
reading was the reason. Here are two of the
many compelling examples:

Richard Wright grew up in an environment in
which reading and writing were disapproved of
by family members; his grandmother actually
burned the books he brought home, âbranding
them as worldly."

Wright became interested in reading and in
hearing stories at an early age, thanks to a
school-teacher (a boarder at his home) who told
him stories from novels.

Wright struggled to gain access to reading
material. He delivered newspapers only so that
he could read them and used an associateâs
library card to take books out of a library
that was restricted to whites.

Wright credits reading with providing his
development as a writer: âI wanted to write and
I did not even know the English language. I
bought English grammars and found them dull. I
felt I was getting a better sense of the
language from novels than from grammarsâ (p.

Ben Carson, now a neurosurgeon, was a poor
student in the fifth grade, when his mother
required him to check out two books per week
from the library and insisted that he report on
his reading to her at the end of each week.
Carson was not enthusiastic but he obeyed his
mother. What is crucial is that Carsonâs mother
allowed him to read whatever he wanted to read.

At first, Carson chose books on animals,
nature, and science reflecting his interests.
Carson reported that while he was a âhorrible
student in the traditionally academic subjects,
I excelled in fifth grade scienceâ (Carson,
1990, p. 37). As his science reading expanded,
he âbecame the fifth grade expert in anything
of a scientific natureâ (p. 37).

Carson credits reading with improving his
reading comprehension and vocabulary, which
affected all his academic work, reporting that
he became âthe best student in math when we did
story problemsâ (p. 38). Consistent with the
research, reading also improved his spelling:
âI kept reading all through summer, and by the
time I began sixth grade I had learned to spell
a lot of words without conscious memorizationâ
(p. 39).

The initial impetus his mother provided led to
dramatic results: âAs I continued to read, my
spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension
improved, and my classes became much more
interesting. I improved so much that by the
time I entered seventh grade ⦠I was at the top
of the classâ (p. 39).

These case histories, and others like them,
strongly suggest that reading does in fact
deserve the credit for the progress made by
these readers.

PART TWO: More access to books results in more

A number of studies have shown that children
with more books in their home read more than
children with fewer books, that children in
classrooms with better classroom libraries and
library corners read more, that students in
schools with better school libraries read more,
and young people who have easier access to a
public library read more.


Confirming parts one and two, studies show that
better library quality is related to better
reading scores at the state level, at the
national level and at the international level.
In these studies, the effect of the library
generally held even when the effect of poverty
was controlled.

PART THREE: Children of poverty have
consistently lower reading scores on tests of
reading achievement.

This fact has been confirmed in every major
study of literacy ever done. It appears in the
NAEP reports issued by the US government, and
in international studies of literacy, as well
as in countless journal papers.

Nearly every possible reason has been proposed
for this finding, ranging from blaming parents
and children for not trying harder, to teacher
quality. The most obvious reason, however, is
rarely discussed:

PART FOUR: Children of poverty have little
access to books.

Studies show that children of poverty have
fewer books in their homes, attend schools with
inferior classroom and school libraries, and
live in neighborhoods with fewer bookstores and
with inferior public libraries.

Combining parts one through four: More reading
means more literacy development, more access to
books means more reading, and children of
poverty have access to very few books. This
explains why children of poverty do not do well
in reading.


This is our true literacy crisis. And the
obvious solution is to invest in school and
public libraries in low-income neighborhoods.

The current effort

The US Department of Education offers grants to
libraries in high poverty areas at this time,
but the amount of money available each year
totals only $18.2 million. That's a little
more than one dollar per year for each child
living in poverty in the US today. Also,
libraries have to compete for the money.

The alternative

So far, NCLB costs the American taxpayer about
$100 billion per year. Despite their promises,
the federal government contributes only 25% of
this. The rest comes from the states.

If we took only one year of the NCLB federal
budget, $25 billion and invested it, it would
generate one billion dollars per year, $100 per
year for every child in poverty in the US. This
kind of funding would provide a strong start
for improving library quality in areas where it
is most needed, and it is a one-time investment
that will pay off indefinitely.


If we dismantle the entire NCLB high stakes
testing program and rely on teacher evaluation
and NAEP, which are already in place, we will
lose nothing in accountability.

We will save about $100 billion per year.
Seventy-five billion of this comes from the
individual states. This savings would do a lot
to solve the budget crisis many states are now

Instead of wasting billions, we can take a
concrete step in the direction of increasing
literacy for children from low-income families
by investing a small fraction of what we are
spending now, and putting the money where it


The Testing Component of NCLB and
"Standards-Based Reform"

The following companies get about 90% of the
testing business from the states ⦠Vu, P.,
2008. Do state tests make the grade?
Stateline.org, January 17, 2008.

Does NCLB testing help teaching?

This is because results are not reported until
the summer, and there are too few items on any
topic ⦠Amrein, A.L. & Berliner, D.C. 2002.
High-stakes testing, uncertainty, and student
learning Education Policy Analysis Archives,
10(18). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n18/.`

High Stakes Testing

⦠there are about twice as many punishments as
rewards. Amrein, A.L. & Berliner, D.C. 2002.
High-stakes testing, uncertainty, and student
learning Education Policy Analysis Archives,
10(18). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n18/.`

Does high stakes testing work?

So far, studies show that "high stakes" states
do not do better on NAEP reading tests â¦:
Amrein, A.L. & Berliner, D.C. 2002. High-stakes
testing, uncertainty, and student learning
Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10(18).
http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n18/, Amrein-
Beardsley, A. A. & Berliner, D. C. 2003. Re-
analysis of NAEP math and reading scores in
states with and without high-stakes tests:
Response to Rosenshine. Education Policy
Analysis Archives, 11(25).

⦠children in high accountability states gained
less than one percent more than those in low
accountability states between grades four and
eight in math: Raymond, M. E., & Hanushek, E.
A. 2003. High-stakes research. Education Next,
Summer, pp. 48â55.

⦠found a clear advantage for high
accountability states in grade 8 math, but the
difference was less in grade 4: Carnoy, M. and
Loeb, S. 2002. Does external accountability
affect student outcomes? A cross-state
analysis,â Educational Evaluation and Policy
Analysis, 24(4): 305-331.

Evidence supporting teacher evaluation

⦠high school grades in college preparatory
courses are a better predictor of achievement
in college and four-year college graduation
rates than are standardized tests (the SAT).
Geiser, S. and Santelices, M.V., 2007. Validity
of high-school grades in predicting student
success beyond the freshman year: High-school
record vs. standardized tests as indicators of
four-year college outcomes. Research and
Occasional Papers Series: CSHE 6.07, University
of California, Berkeley.

What is wrong with intensive phonics?

Frank Smith's example is a good one: Smith, F.
1994. Understanding Reading. Erlbaum.

⦠one phonics expert: Johnson, F. 2001. The
utility of phonics generalizations: Letâs take
another look at Clymerâs conclusions. The
Reading Teacher, 55: 132-143.

Over 40 years ago, Clymer attempted to
determine â¦" Clymer, T. 1963/1966. The utility
of phonics generalizations in the primary
grades. The Reading Teacher, 16/50: 252-

replicated numerous times since 1966: Adams, M.
1990. Beginning to Read. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Studies of intensive, systematic phonics

⦠the National Reading Panel report, which
focused only on experimental studies: National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development
(NICHD), 2000. Report of the National Reading
Panel: Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-
Based Assessment of the Scientific Research
Literature on Reading and Its Implications for
Reading Instruction: Reports of the Subgroups.
Washington, DC: NIH Publication 00-4654.

As Panel member Joanne Yatvin has described:
Yatvin, J. 2002. Babes in the woods: The
wanderings of the national reading panel. Phi
Delta Kappan, 83(5): 364- 369.

Researcher Elaine Garan has pointed out: Garan,
E. 2001. What does the report of the national
reading panel really tell us about phonics?
Language Arts, 79: 61-70.

Reanalysis revealed: Krashen, S. 2002. The NRP
comparison of whole language and phonics:
Ignoring the crucial variable in reading.
Talking Points, 13(3): 22-28.

⦠actual reading itself is a good predictor of
reading achievement scores, and that classes in
which more reading is done are more effective
than those in which less reading is done:
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, and Westport, CONN:
Libraries Unlimited (second edition).

Should phonics to taught at all?

Frank Smith provides this example: Smith, F.
1994. Understanding Reading. Erlbaum.

In 1985, a book appeared: Anderson, R.,
Hiebert, E., Scott, J., & Wilkinson, I. 1985.
Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the
Commission on Reading. Washington, D.C.:
National Institute of Education.

Research on Reading First

⦠at an "all time high," e.g. "President Bush
Discusses No Child Left Behind
Reauthorization," Waldorf Astoria, New York,
New York, September 26, 2007.

NAEP scores: Lee, J., Grigg, W., and Donahue,
P. 2007. The Nation's Report Card Reading 2007
(NCES 2007â496). Washington: National Center
for Education, US Department of Education

On the most recent PIRLS reading test: Mullis,
I, Martin, M., Kennedy, A. and Foy, P. 2006.
PIRLS 2006 international report. Boston:
International Study Center, Boston University.

â¦a number of studies have shown that Reading
First did not increase the rate of improvement:
Fuller, B., Wright, J., Gesicki, K. and Kang,
E. 2007. Gauging growth: How to judge No Child
Left Behind? Educational Researcher 36: 268-
278; Lee, J. 2008. Two takes on the impact of
NCLB on academic improvement: Tracking state
proficiency trends through NAEP versus state
assessments. In Sunderman, G. (Ed.) Holding
NCLB Accountable. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Press. pp. 75-89.

The Reading First Impact Study

Gamse, B.C., Bloom, H.S., Kemple, J.J., Jacob,
R.T., 2008. Reading First Impact Study: Interim
Report (NCEE 2008-4016). Washington, DC:
National Center for Education Evaluation and
Regional Assistance, Institute of Education
Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

For confirmation that Reading First in general
takes up more instructional time, see Center on
Education Policy. 2007. Answering the Question
That Matters Most: Has Student Achievement
Increased Since No Child Left Behind?

Some Suggestions: Reading

More reading, especially self-selected
voluntary reading, leads to higher levels of
literacy: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of
Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, and
Westport, CONN: Libraries Unlimited (second

Case histories: Wright, R. 1966. Black Boy. New
York: Harper and Row, Carson, B. 1990. Gifted
Hands. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Books.

— Stephen Krashen
presentation, North Orange County Democratic Club


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