Washington - State-by-state data on the federal Reading First program were released with fanfare this past spring by the U.S. Department of Education as evidence that the initiative was fueling “tremendous progress” among students and teachers. The Reading First Advisory Committee, a federal panel that met for the first time here this week, found that information on student achievement in participating schools far less definitive and has asked for more time and technical assistance in evaluating the data from the $1 billion-a-year program.
“It seems like there are no standards anyone can interpret,” said committee member Frank R. Vellutino, a prominent reading researcher from the State University of New York at Albany.
He was referring to the variations among states in the assessments used to gauge students’ reading skills, as well as differences in cutoff scores used to determine whether children are on track toward becoming “proficient” readers.
“It’s going to be a job and a half to come to any conclusion whether states are meeting their responsibilities” in improving achievement in Reading First schools, Mr. Vellutino said.
The committee was given a thick binder filled with test-score data from grantees, which states are required to submit to the department each year. The information is based on the assessments and proficiency benchmarks set by each state as part of its Reading First plan...
This from Education Week (subscription).