Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reading First "Scandal" - OIG Report Irony

I am guessing that if you are reading this post you are either an education junkie like myself, or you have a fetish for short bald guys. If it is the latter, then read no further. If however, you are trying to make first of the whole "Reading First" scandal, read on.

I haven't seen the hearings yet, mainly because my fiancee won't let me hog the computer for four hours, but today at work, I read most of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reports investigating the RF program.

Having read accounts of the hearings, I was quite surprised when I read the actual reports. This scandal as it's now being called, might blow up in the face of the people protesting the program (whole language mafia).

The OIG, almost subliminally called for the Reading First program to become more stringent that it already is. In the The Department’s Administration of Selected Aspects of the Reading First Program,
FINAL AUDIT REPORT issued February 2007, I found this nugget on page 23.

Since the legislation is scheduled for reauthorization in 2007, Congress has an opportunity to clarify whether reading programs should be funded on the basis of program effectiveness. Congress will also be able to determine what it means for a program to be “based on scientific reading research” and whether this definition is consistent with program effectiveness. Information obtained and deliberated upon, as part of the reauthorization process, should enable Congress to make the legislation more responsive to the needs of children by ensuring that quality programs are funded with Reading First funds.

We suggest that the Department and Congress, during the next reauthorization of the law, clarify whether reading programs need to have scientific evidence of effectiveness in order to be eligible for funding under Reading First.
Right now it is still possible for states to slip in programs that on the surface meet the basic requirements of having explicit and systematic instruction in the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency (including oral reading skills), and reading comprehension strategies.

If Congress added a requirement for scientific evidence of effectiveness to the requirements, many of the weaker programs would not qualify.

Of course, Congressman George Miller, is ignoring this aspect of the report during his grandstanding.