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August 01, 2005 Extra Credit
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August 1, 2005

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Reading Skills a Crucial Factor

The following editorial appeared in today’s Baton Rouge [LA] Advocate:

"The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board recently created some new jobs to help boost reading skills among the system's students. The board authorized the new position of reading director. Additionally, 55 teachers will earn supplements to serve as part-time reading coaches.

Only time will tell if these measures prove the correct way to help improve reading skills among Baton Rouge's public school students. But the School Board's emphasis on reading as a priority in public schools is welcome. Fewer than half the students in the school system read on grade level.

Reading is the gateway to most other learning. If students cannot read well, they stand a very small chance of excelling in other subjects.

The importance of reading was underscored by a recent visit to New Orleans by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who was in the Crescent City to address a conference on the federal Reading First program.

Reading First is a three-year-old federal effort to boost reading among children in kindergarten through third grade. The program and its preschool companion, Early Reading First, have given states and school systems $4.3 billion since 2002 to promote ‘scientifically proven’ reading instruction.

Spellings told her New Orleans audience that nationwide, reading test scores are up — a trend that she attributed to the success of local and federal initiatives.

We hope that steady improvements in reading skills also will become a reality in Baton Rouge's public schools.

There's nothing more important in helping children succeed in the classroom."

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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: 08/02/2005