February 2, 2004, Extra Credit
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February 2, 2004
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 January 30
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Three Questions on the Importance of Reading

Why is it so important for children to learn good reading skills in the early years of school?

Research shows that children who read well in the early grades are far more successful in later years; and those who fall behind often stay behind when it comes to academic achievement. Reading opens the door to learning about math, history, science, literature, geography and much more. Thus, young, capable readers can succeed in these subjects, take advantage of other opportunities (such as reading for pleasure) and develop confidence in their own abilities. On the other hand, those students who cannot read well are much more likely to drop out of school and be limited to low-paying jobs throughout their lives. Reading is undeniably critical to success in today's society.

What is being done to help children learn to read well by the end of the third grade?

Improving the reading skills of children is a top priority for leaders at all levels of government and business, as well as for parents, teachers and countless citizens who volunteer at reading programs across the nation. At the national level, No Child Left Behind reflects this concern with the Reading First program. It is an ambitious national initiative designed to help every young child in every state become a successful reader. It is based on the expectation that instructional decisions for all students will be guided by the best available research. In recent years, scientific research has provided tremendous insight into exactly how children learn to read and the essential components for effective reading instruction. Reading First builds on this solid foundation of research.

Does No Child Left Behind support programs to help children build language and pre-reading skills before they start kindergarten?

Yes. The Early Reading First program supports preschool programs that provide a high-quality education to young children, especially those from low-income families. While early childhood programs are important for children's social, emotional and physical development, they are also important for children's early cognitive and language development. Research stresses the importance of early reading skills, including phonemic awareness and vocabulary development. Early Reading First supports programs to help preschoolers improve these skills. These programs can include professional development of staff and identifying and providing activities and instructional material. Programs must be grounded in scientifically based research, and their success must continually be evaluated.


About Extra Credit
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: 04/01/2004