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Reading for Understanding Research Initiative

Susan Notes:

THIS item is actually Research that Pays/Research that Kills.

This anecdote by Marion Brady is most appropriate as introduction to the $100 million the U. S. Department of Education is sending out to the entities Arthur Koestler named Call Girls.

You wonder why so many university professors remain so silent about outrages and abuses by the U. S. Department of Education? $100 million dollars, that's why. And plenty more coming. They are salivating for all that professional development money being sent out to fill the troughs.

Prediction: In the long run, money gusher located at the U. S. Department of Education will do more harm than the BP oil gusher.

by Marion Brady

Last Sunday I picked up a book by Gervase Phinn to read on the plane coming back from Gatwick. It was written by a school inspector for Yorkshire, and wasn't
particularly good, but it had a passage in it that I thought had much to say
about the idiocy of standardized testing.

He's visiting a small school in the Yorkshire Dales. (I think that was where
James Herriot lived and worked), and is checking reading ability.

from The Other Side of the Dale:

...In the infants [class], I chose a bright picture book about a brave old
ram who went off into the deep, snow-packed valley to look for a lost

Graham, a six-year-old, began reading the story with great gusto.

'Ronald was an old, grey ram who lived in a wide, green valley near a big,
big farm.'

At this point, he promptly stopped reading and stared intently at the
picture of the ram. It had a great smiling mouth, short horns, a fat body
and shining eyes like black marbles.

"What breed is that?" Graham asked.

'Breed?' I repeated.

'Aye,' said the child. 'What breed is he?'

'I don't know,' I answered in a rather pathetic tone of voice.

'Don't you know your sheep, then?'

'No, I don't,' I replied.

'Miss,' shouted the child, could Tony come over here a minute? I want to
know what breed of sheep this is.'

We were joined by Tony, another stocky little six-year-old with red
cheeks and a runny nose. 'Let's have a look at t'picture then,' he said.

I turned the book to face him. The large white sheep with black patches
and a mouth full of shining teeth smiled from the page.

'Is it a Masham or a Swaledale?' he asked me.

"I don't know, I answered in the same pathetic tone of voice.

Another child joined the discusssion. 'It looks like a blue-faced
Leicester to me. What do you reckon?'

'I have no idea,' I replied.

'Don't you know your sheep, then?' I was asked again, and once more
replied that I did not. By this time a small crowd of interested onlookers
had joined me in the reading corner.

'They're not Leicesters,' ventured Tony, 'because there's a low gate in
t'picture.' There were grunts and nods of agreement from the other children.

Before I could ask about the significance of the low gate, Graham
explained. 'Leicesters are a long-legged breed. They can get over low

'Is it a Texel?" ventured a plump girl, peering at the picture. Then she
glanced at the ignoramous holding the book. 'That's a Dutch breed.'

'Texels have white faces, not black,' Graham commented.

Very soon the whole class was concentrating on the breed of the
picture-book sheep.

...A girl from another class was called in.

'I reckon they're Bleu de Main or Rouge de ''Ouest,' she suggested. Then
she turned to the dunce holding book and looked me straight in the eyes.
'Them's French breeds.'

Susan's Notes:

Meanwhile, here are the winners:

Assessing Reading for Understanding: A Theory-based, Developmental Approach
Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
Education Testing Service
Principal Investigator:
Sabatini, John
Award Amount: $14,824,22

Catalyzing Comprehension Through Discussion and Debate
Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
Strategic Education Research Partnership Institute
Principal Investigator:
Donovan, Mary Suzanne
Award Amount: $19,352,384
Award Period: Five years

Examining Effective Intervention Targets, Longitudinal Intensity, and Scaling Factors for Pre-K to 5th Grade Student Comprehension
Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
Florida State University
Principal Investigator:
Lonigan, Christopher
Award Amount: $20,000,000
Award Period: Five years

Reading for Understanding Across Grades 6 through 12: Evidence-Based Argumentation for Disciplinary Learning
Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Principal Investigator:
Goldman, Susan
Award Amount: $19,256,585
Award Period: Five years

The Language Bases of Reading Comprehension
Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
Ohio State University
Principal Investigator:
Justice, Laura
Award Amount: $19,999,999
Award Period: Five years

Understanding Malleable Cognitive Processes and Integrated Comprehension Interventions for Grades 7--12
Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator:
Vaughn, Sharon
Award Amount: $20,000,000
Award Period: Five years

This name rings a bell.

Item: The Texas initiative became a model for Mr. Bush's federal reading program once he became president. The design team for Voyager included researchers Sharon Vaughn, Edward J. Kame'enui, Roland H. Good III, and Joseph Torgesen. Those respected scholars in reading and special education went on to become pivotal consultants to the Reading First program, a connection that some critics said might give Voyager an unfair advantage in gaining entree to Reading First schools.
--Voyager Sails Into Market for Reading: But Questions Abound Over Secrets of Success
Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
Education Week

Item: During these early days of the program [Reading First], various department personnel met with representatives of the major publishing companies-- and some of the smaller ones-- to urge them to beef up their programs and to reflect a greater emphasis on SBRR. It was a clear echo of Carnine's earlier work with NCITE. By all accounts, the meetings were informal and well-received.

One of those meetings was a lunch in Washington involving the department and representatives of Scott Foresman of Livonia, Mich., publishers of a major basal textbook. Accompanying Scott Foresman officials was Sandy Kress, a close presidential adviser and one of the architects of No Child Left Behind, who had become a lobbyist for Pearson, Inc., Scott Foresman's parent company. The meeting was unremarkable save for the appearance of two faces then-relatively unknown in the nation's capital: Ed Kameenui and Deborah Simmons, professors and longtime colleagues of Carnine at the University of Oregon. Along with Sharon Vaughn, a reading researcher at the University of Texas, the pair had just signed with Scott Foresman to produce a new basal, scheduled for release in 2007.
--When Research Goes to Market, Is It a Good Thing for Education?
Andrew Brownstein and Travis Hicks,
Thompson Title 1 Monitor,
August 2005

Item: Vaughn was the other member of the Voyager Passport design team, and one of the four chairmen of the secretary's Reading Leadership Academy, which exerted enormous influence over Reading First; the others were Moats, Kame'enui and his Oregon colleague Douglas Carnine. States such as Alabama, North Carolina and Washington specified in their Reading First grants that every one of their reviewers for local proposals would have to be approved by one of those chairmen.
--The Education Issue
Michael Grunwald
Washington Post

And so on. Put "Sharon Vaughn" into a 'search' on this site.

Press Release

Dr. Elizabeth Albro
(202) 219-2148

Dr. Karen Douglas
(202) 208-3896

The Reading for Understanding Research Initiative (Reading for Understanding) was created to develop effective approaches for improving reading comprehension for all students. Reading for Understanding will take a comprehensive approach to tackling the problem of improving reading comprehension and include (a) applied basic research to identify underlying processes that contribute to comprehension; (b) development and evaluation of instructional approaches, curricula, technology, and teacher professional development programs to improve reading comprehension for students in prekindergarten through Grade 12; and (c) development and validation of assessments of reading comprehension. In addition, the Institute plans for Reading for Understanding to change the way in which research on reading has been conducted by accelerating the research process and creating a tightly linked network of researchers. The project period for Reading for Understanding is July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015.

The Request for Applications for the Reading for Understanding Research Initiative is posted online at: http://ies.ed.gov/funding/pdf/2010_84305F.pdf.

Six teams were selected through a competitive, scientific review process to participate in the Reading for Understanding Network. Five of the teams will focus on increasing understanding of basic processes that contribute to reading comprehension and developing and evaluating instructional approaches, curricula, technology, and professional development for enhancing reading comprehension. The five teams will address a broad range of research questions and engage in a variety of research strategies including experimental, observational, and longitudinal studies. The sixth team will develop assessments designed to measure the developmental trajectories of reading comprehension skills. Altogether, the six teams include over 130 researchers representing linguistics, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, reading, speech and language pathology, assessment and evaluation.

The typical R&D process in education has been slow in developing effective solutions. To accelerate the basic research process, the Reading for Understanding Network will work in close collaboration to rapidly develop and test new approaches and interventions in multiple content areas and grades--a process of multiple prototyping of interventions. The purpose of the Reading for Understanding Network is to aggressively attack and derive solutions for enabling students to understand what they read.

— IES and Marion Brady
Press Release


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