That's the irony," said John F. Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy. "The program was poorly -- even unethically -- administered at the federal level, yet it seems to be having a positive effect in schools.I bet this upsets more than a few people.
A department official said the data show that the number of students in Reading First programs who were proficient on fluency tests increased on average over the past five years by 16 percent for first-graders, 14 percent for second-graders and 15 percent for third-graders. On comprehension tests, it increased 15 percent for first-graders, 6 percent for second-graders and 12 percent for third-graders. The official said the analysis is based on results from 16 states that have the most complete data.
Critics said the results were not so impressive, considering how much money has been spent on the program. They said the test scores are meaningless because they are not compared with the performance of other students, who nationwide are doing better in reading.It would be nice to see these numbers, but I am willing to bet that a lot these other schools were influenced by Reading First.
Its also pretty ironic that the same people who would argue for more money to be poured into education on things like teachers pay, now decide to complain about the money. And just how expensive is the program?
According to the Reading First website, the program helps 1.7 million children. The annual budget for Reading First in 2006 was $1,029,234,000. By my calculation this works out to around $605 per kid per year. Obviously, this is way to much money to spend on low income children to teach them how to read.
The most disturbing thing though, is as far as I can tell, Reading First is nothing more than a bribe to use effective programs. What does it say that states just didn't adopt scientifically based programs by themselves?