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October 28, 2004 Extra Credit
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October 28, 2004

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October 27
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Reading First Causes Students To Ask: “When Do We Get To Read?”

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. To date, Reading First is providing professional development to more than 85,000 K-3 teachers and improving reading instruction for more than 1.4 million K-3 students. The following are excerpts from an article in today’s The Charleston Gazette (WV) highlighting U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige’s visit to an elementary school in West Virginia where students’ reading achievement is improving thanks to Reading First:

“Alone, in pairs, together, aloud. Noses are in books for two hours a day at Alum Creek Elementary. Now test scores are going up. About 35 percent of the kindergarten class struggles with meeting reading level minimums. Before, half the class was lost.

“‘It’s the first initiative that I have seen that is funded so it can be implemented appropriately,’ said Principal Vanessa Brown. ‘This program should be the poster child for No Child Left Behind.’

“On Wednesday U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige congratulated students and teachers at the school for progress under the Reading First program this year. He also met with state and local educators and read a book to a kindergarten class.

“Reading First is a grant project that is part of No Child Left Behind. It helps teachers focus on getting children to read, not only more, but with better instruction and individualized help. Teachers track student progress monthly with Palm Pilots and pinpoint exactly what a student needs to better grasp reading. Extra teachers hired with the grant money help with planning and training.

“Two other Title I, or poverty aid, schools — Bonham Elementary and Cedar Grove Community School … also share the $1.2 million grant to buy books and supplies. — Reading First is in 36 schools in 21 counties in the state. The focus on individual students is what makes it successful, said Beverly Kingery, Reading First director for the state Department of Education.”

“By teaching kids the fundamentals early on, more students are apt to finish high school and attend college, [Paige] said.”

“Learning to teach the program takes hard work, but seeing the student progress is worth it, said Lola Roberts, a third-grade teacher at Alum Creek. ‘When they told me that I had to teach reading for two hours a day, I panicked,’ Roberts said. ‘But now two hours isn't enough. Before the assembly [with Paige] a student asked me, ‘When do we get to read?’’”

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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: 08/13/2013