NASET News Alert

U.S.D.E. Reports Shows Impressive Gains in Reading Proficiency for Students with Disabilities

June 24, 2008

U.S. Department of Education Reports New Reading First Data From States Shows Impressive Gains in Reading Proficiency for Students with Disabilities

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced new data from the states showing impressive gains for Reading First students. The achievement data submitted by state education agencies (SEAs) and compiled and analyzed by the Education Department's contractor, American Institutes for Research, showed improvement in nearly every grade and subgroup, including English language learners and students with disabilities.

Under No Child Left Behind, State educational agencies have received over $6 billion in Reading First grants. President Bush's proposed budget for FY 2009 includes $1 billion for Reading First. Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education stripped funding for this important program from their 2009 funding bill.

"Reading First has done so much to crack the code on how to get kids to read," said Secretary Spellings. "It would be tragic to cut the nation's only reading program when so many policymakers and teachers know it's working to increase achievement."

Reading First builds on a solid foundation of scientifically based research and provides struggling students in the nation's highest need schools with the necessary resources to make significant progress in reading achievement. The new state data shows this emphasis on scientific research into reading is making a difference for all students:

  • In Grade 1, 44 of 50 SEAs reported increases in the percentage of students proficient in reading comprehension. Of these, 31 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 2, 39 of 52 SEAs reported improvement. Of these, 19 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 3, 27 of 35 SEAs reported improvement. Of these, 15 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more

Thanks to Reading First, schools and teachers finally have the technical knowledge and the practical training to ensure every child, including English language learners and students with disabilities, gets the help he or she needs to excel in reading. Again, the state data demonstrates substantial improvements for these students with special needs:

English Language Learners:

  • In Grade 1, 28 of 37 SEAs reported increases in the percentage of students proficient in reading comprehension. Of these, 25 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 2, 25 of 37 SEAs reported improvement in reading comprehension. Of these, 19 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 3, 17 of 25 SEAs reported improvement. Of these, 12 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.

Students with Disabilities:

  • In Grade 1, 34 of 44 SEAs reported increases in the percentage of students proficient in reading comprehension. Of these, 28 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 2, 30 of 48 SEAs reported improvement. Of these, 20 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.
  • In Grade 3, 25 of 32 SEAs reported improvement. Of these, 15 SEAs increased by five percentage points or more.

Reading First funds professional development, scientifically based instructional programs, materials, and strategies, valid and reliable screening, diagnostic and ongoing classroom assessments, and statewide accountability and leadership structures. Reading First is designed to help needy students in grades K-3, while Early Reading First helps preschool age children.

In April of this year, an IES Reading First Interim Impact Study did not find significant gains in comprehension by students in Reading First schools; however, that study measured Reading First schools against other schools in Reading First districts—schools that may have implemented the same reforms. A final report is expected in late 2008. The Reading First Advisory Committee, a group of experts who advise the Secretary on the Reading First program, convenes today to discuss questions they have about the IES study.

For more information on the state data, please visit http://www.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/performance.html.

For a fact sheet on Reading First, visit http://www.ed.gov/nclb/methods/reading/readingfirst.html.

For more information about Reading First, please visit http://www.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/index.html.

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