Thursday, April 19, 2007

Michael J. Petrilli on Reading First on National Review Online

Michael J. Petrilli on Reading First on National Review Online: "Hooked on Hysterics"

Sorry I lied in my last post. I got bored of studying and came across this article.

Someone a lot more qualified than me seems to echo several of my last few posts on Reading First

This circus was set in motion on the campaign trail seven years ago. That’s when Governor George W. Bush proposed a heavy-handed federal program, modeled on a similar — and notably successful — one in Texas, that would provide mucho dinero for reading instruction, but only for interventions that were scientifically proven to work.

(I said Reading First was a bribe)


Fast-forward to tomorrow’s hearing, featuring the Education Department’s inspector general, who spent much of 2006 producing reports purporting to show that federal officials steered Reading First grants to preferred programs — those with which they had “professional associations.” Not that he presented any evidence of financial shenanigans — merely that a handful of the expert panelists reviewing the state applications were partial to certain reading approaches (specifically, those that work).

Another witness will be Chris Doherty, the former administration official who directed the Reading First program until he was made to walk the plank on behalf of his superiors last fall. His response to these “allegations” might as well be “guilty as charged.” He and his colleagues did exactly what they were expected to do. Federal officials did prevent states from using certain programs, programs not based on scientific research, and advised them how to look for better ones, just as Congress intended. That was the whole point...

As I previously commented:
Some reading programs are good, some are bad.

Good reading programs have experts, bad reading programs have quacks.

Reading First hires experts.

Experts recommend good reading programs.

Schools improve using good reading programs.

Quacks get pissed, accuse experts of profiting.
Michael's main point though is that Democrats that supported Reading First are in a quandary. Pile on a program they supported to make political points, or stand by their convictions and Reading Firsts success.

Me... because I haven't anything else to say.

I am busy studying for a test (Senior NCO Professional Development), so I don't have time to post anything interesting (if I do at all), so here is a picture of me and my sister in Los Angeles, from about two years ago. I don't think I look like an education geek, but I am.

Reading First says In Your Face!

Reading First Paying Off, Education Dept. Says -

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.


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.
I bet this upsets more than a few people.
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?