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October 20, 2003, Extra Credit
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October 20, 2003
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Reading First Program Has Mom "Thrilled" As Her Daughter Becomes "A Voracious Reader"

Following are excerpts from a recent article in the Arizona Republic:

"Eight-year-old Paola Arteaga's library card shows the third-grader is becoming a voracious reader. And her mother, Susana Cabrera, credits Reading First, a multimillion-dollar federal reading initiative launched this fall that aims to have third-graders reading at fourth-grade levels by the end of the school year. Part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative, Reading First will bring about $105 million to Arizona schools over six years. 'I'm thrilled with this program because it is nurturing a love of literature in my daughter,' Cabrera said."

"Arizona became one of the first states to secure Reading First grants. The program, which will get the federal funding over six years, is backed by AZ Reads, the state's first statewide reading initiative. Nearly 28,000 Arizona students will participate in the program, including students from 12 Valley school districts. Many of the schools share demographics similar to Lowell's, where more than 90 percent of the students are on free or reduced-price lunch and 85 percent of the students hail from homes where English is a second language. Arizona educators view the Reading First program as critical because studies show that kids who can't read by the third grade rarely get up to speed later and often drop out. What's more, third grade marks the first time students take the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test, and recent scores showed about 30 percent of them failed to meet the state standard for reading. 'That's not the kind of news any teacher or parent wants to hear,' Lake said. 'So we're thrilled to have the financial support to provide additional assistance to struggling students.'"

"Schools had to demonstrate high poverty levels and low reading achievement to qualify for the federal grants. This year, those that made the cut will share more than $14 million, said Marie Mancuso, director of AZ Reads. The three-year grants pay for reading specialists, classroom materials, tutoring programs and teacher training. Teachers are trained in five key reading areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. After assessment teams identify students' weaknesses, teachers separate them into skill-based learning groups to target those areas. Frequent quick assessments are also part of the plan, with those who don't make the expected gains pulled out for intensive before- and after-school tutoring."

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

If you would like the NCLB Extra Credit emailed to you, please send a request to Geoff Goodman at NoChildLeftBehindUpdate@ed.gov or call (202) 205-9191.

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Last Modified: 03/10/2008