April 5, 2002
Honorable Patricia Schroeder
Association of American Publishers, Inc.
50 F Street, NW, Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Ms. Schroeder:
I have received your letter seeking further written clarification of guidance issued by the Department for the Reading First program. As you know, Reading First will help to ensure that all children are able to read at grade level or above by the end of third grade through the application of scientifically based reading research.
Through Reading First, schools will implement instructional programs and materials based on this research. Program materials and activities must meet the criteria for scientifically based reading research outlined in the legislation and discussed in the program guidance. In their applications for Reading First funds, State educational agencies must outline the specific criteria they will use to evaluate the suitability of programs and materials. These applications will be reviewed by an expert panel that will make recommendations for funding or for disapproval in accordance with the law.
As we indicated at the meeting you attended on March 1, there is not an "approved list" of programs and materials to be used in connection with Reading First. What is important is that any reading programs and materials used in the Reading First program be based upon scientifically based reading research as that term is defined in the statute. Question H-7 of the program guidance discusses the "considerable flexibility" States have in ensuring that Reading First funds go only to local educational agencies that will implement high quality programs that meet the requirements of Reading First. This guidance is available on the Department's website at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/guidance.doc. Should you require any additional information on Reading First, please feel free to contact the program office at (202) 401-0113 or Reading.First@ed.gov.
Let me also add that the Department as a whole, and Assistant Secretary Susan Neuman and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in particular, thank you for the invaluable support you and your organization have provided us as we implement No Child Left Behind. We all look forward to our continued collaboration.