NCLB PROVEN METHODS
Report: Reading First Impacts Instruction of Struggling Readers
November 2008
Archived Information


"Reading First helps our most vulnerable students learn the fundamental elements of reading while helping teachers improve instruction. Instead of reversing the progress we have made by cutting funding, we must enhance Reading First and help more students benefit from research based instruction."
— Secretary Margaret Spellings

Reading First builds on a solid foundation of scientifically based research and provides struggling students in the nation's highest need schools with the necessary resources to make significant progress in reading achievement.

  • Reading First continues the federal commitment to a dedicated funding stream for reading—states have received over $6 billion to support reading programs for struggling students. More than 100,000 teachers across the country have been trained to implement high quality, scientifically based reading programs. Their efforts are reaching more than 1.8 million students.
  • Reading First provides grants to states to help schools and school districts improve the reading achievement of low-income, low-achieving students through scientifically proven methods of instruction.
  • The program, based on the findings of the National Reading Panel, funds professional development; scientifically based instructional programs, materials, and strategies; valid and reliable screening, diagnostic and ongoing classroom assessments, and statewide accountability and leadership structures.

The Institute of Education Sciences report, "Reading First Impact Study Final Report" demonstrates the positive effects of Reading First on the quality of reading instruction and the positive relationship between time spent on reading instruction and reading comprehension:

  • While this evaluation found no statistically significant difference in reading comprehension, Reading First had a significant impact on students' decoding, phonics, and fluency skills—three of the five basic components of reading. This impact means that scores of students in Reading First schools were higher by the equivalent of 3 months of a 9-month school year.
  • Teachers in Reading First classrooms engaged in more of the practices emphasized by Reading First than teachers in non-Reading First classrooms.
  • Reading First produced positive and statistically significant impacts on multiple practices that are promoted by the program, including professional development in scientifically based reading instruction (SBRI), support from full-time reading coaches, amount of reading instruction, and supports available for struggling readers.
  • The results in the final report included an assessment of students' decoding and surveys of teachers, principals and reading coaches and interviews with district staff.

The Reading First report shows the program has greatest influence on helping teachers teach reading:

  • Reading First had a statistically significant impact on the total time that teachers spent on the five essential components of reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) based on the findings of the National Reading Panel for students in grades one and two.
  • Reading First had a statistically significant impact on the use of highly explicit instruction in grades one and two and on the amount of high quality student practice in grade two. Its estimated impact on high quality student practice for grade one was not statistically significant.
  • Reading First had a statistically significant impact on the amount of professional development in reading teachers reported receiving; teachers in RF schools reported receiving 25.8 hours of professional development compared to what would have been expected without Reading First (13.7 hours).
  • Reading First also had a statistically significant impact on teachers' self-reported receipt of professional development in the five essential components of reading instruction; teachers in RF schools reported receiving professional development on an average of 4.3 of 5 components, compared to what would have been expected without Reading First (3.7 components).
  • A statistically significantly greater proportion (20 percent) of teachers in RF schools reported receiving coaching from a reading coach than would be expected without Reading First.
  • Reading First had a statistically significant impact on the amount of time teachers reported spending on reading instruction per day. Teachers in RF schools reported an average of 105.7 minutes per day, 18.5 minutes more than the 87.2 minutes that would be expected without Reading First.

Reading First is the academic cornerstone of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act.

  • Reading First is designed to help needy students in grades K-3, while Early Reading First helps preschool age children.
  • In FY 2008, Congress decreased the appropriation for Reading First by 61%.
  • President Bush has requested the restoration of funding for the program in FY 2009 to its FY 2007 level of $1 billion.

Student achievement data in the states show increases:

  • Achievement data reported by States on their Annual Performance Reports show that Reading First students from nearly every grade and subgroup have made impressive gains in reading proficiency.
  • In Grade 1, 44 of 50 States reported increases in the percentage of students proficient in reading comprehension. Of these, 31 States increased by 5 percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 2, 39 of 52 States reported improvement. Of these, 19 States increased by 5 percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 3, 27 of 35 States reported improvement. Of these, 15 States increased by 5 percentage points or more.

 
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Last Modified: 11/19/2008