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April 28, 2004

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April 27
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Reading First is "definitely worth it"

Reading First is the academic cornerstone of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act. This program provides grants to help schools and districts improve children's reading achievement through scientifically proven methods of instruction. Under No Child Left Behind, funding for fiscal years 2002 through 2004 amounts to $2.92 billion in Reading First funds. In 2002 Colorado received $9 million in funding for the first year of its Reading First grant. And the Centennial State is expected to receive a total of $59 million over a six-year period. The following are excerpts from yesterday's Journal Advocate (CO) highlighting how Merino Elementary School is using their Reading First funds to ensure that no child is left behind:

"Merino is receiving $115,000 this year, $103,000 next year and $102,000 for the 2005-06 school year [to implement the Reading First program]. The grant is made available by the Colorado Department of Education as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The program is based on the findings of years of research. The grant is to eliminate reading deficits by establishing comprehensive reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade. The program is designed to select, implement and provide professional development through coaching for teachers using scientifically based reading programs.

"'By the end of the third grade, all third grade students should be reading at a third grade level if all the goals are met,' [elementary school principal Kyle] Stumpf said. The program focuses on five 'Big Ideas' in reading. They are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. ... So far, school personnel like the results. Many of the parents do, too."

"'We have had a lot of positive feedback from parents, especially of those with students in kindergarten and first grade,' Stumpf said. 'Part of the grant includes testing procedures. The way it is set up, we can test students every week or every nine weeks or anywhere in between and have instant results. It is easier for us to keep track of student progress.'"

"'It is definitely worth it,' [faculty member Dorothy] Dietz said. 'The strength of the program is the assessment it allows. We can monitor the achievement of the students. If a student is struggling, we know instantly. We can analyze the data and make changes to meet the child's need.'"

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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.

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Last Modified: 03/25/2008