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July 06, 2004 Extra Credit
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July 6, 2004

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In Tempe, Arizona, School Officials Credit Reading First With Improving Students’ Reading Skills

No Child Left Behind’s Reading First program provides grants to help schools and districts improve children’s reading achievement through scientifically proven methods of instruction. The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Arizona Republic highlighting how Reading First is improving students’ reading skills in Tempe, Arizona:

"… Tempe Elementary School District officials say they are excited about the results of a grant that gave three elementary schools tools to rework the reading curriculum. Officials say that new curriculum resulted in students, particularly kindergartners, showing pronounced improvement in their reading. About 50 percent more students were reading at grade level this spring than last fall."

"Arizona awarded the three-year, $1.8 million grant to Curry, Evans and Laird elementary schools last year. The grant provided a reading curriculum for students in kindergarten through third grade, funds for teacher development and tools with which schools were able to evaluate the progress of their students, according to Lois Whisiker-Williams, language arts coordinator for the district."

"The Reading First grant enabled Tempe teachers to work together to enhance their knowledge of how best to teach reading, Whisiker-Williams said. ‘Instead of the book guiding your reading, you're on the cutting edge of what the child knows,’ she said."

"Whisiker-Williams said students benefited from the grant, with more children achieving the reading level set by the program at the end of the year than at the beginning. And, she said, that's impressive because students learned additional skills during the year. … [She] said the three schools that received the grant benefited the most this year, but Tempe's other 15 schools will benefit, as well. Administrators and teachers were so impressed by the results of the grant that they will adopt the same curriculum in the other elementary schools this fall."

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013