I've gotten a few requests to construct a glossary of all the acronyms involved in the Reading First scandal. Here it is:
DoE: The U.S. Deptartment of Education. Currently run by a Republican Administration though staffed with lots of career bureaucrats who tend to be Democrats. It currently administers the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
OIG: The Office of the Inspector General. Is the Department of Education's internal watchdog that looks out for waste, fraud, and abuse in the Department of Education. The bureaucrats running OIG are likely to be career government employees, i.e., Democrats.
RF: Reading First. Is part of NCLB and is intended to provide grant money to the states that adopt K-3 reading programs for at-risk schools with backed by Scientifically Backed Reading Research (SBRR) suportingtheir effectiveness . To accomplish this, states submitted applications which were reviewed by panelists comprised of reading research experts to determine whether the curricula and practices were aligned with SBRR. There is a high correlation between researchers with SBRR expertise and people who are involved in writing SBRR reading programs and materials. Most panelists had professional connections with one or more reading programs under review.
SBRR: Scientifically Backed Reading Research. It is defined in secftion 1208(6) of NCLB. It is a bunch of legalese gobbledygook (a technical term). Here's what you need to know. Only three reading programs have actual SBRR -- Success for All (SfA), Direct Instruction (DI), and Open Court (OC). SfA has 20 years worth of SBRR. DI has 40 years worth. OC has limited SBRR. All the remaining commercially available reading curricula lacks SBRR; however, some are more closely aligned with the reading research than others, though all programs claim to have SBRR even though they don't. It was the panelists job to exclude the bad reading programs that were not consistent with SBRR. What eventually happened was that the panelists permitted many of the phonics based commercial basal reading programs and excluded the worst of the whole language/balanced literacy reading programs, such as Reading Recovery.
SfA: Success For All. Is a successful reading program with 20 years worth of SBRR behind it. It received the highest ranking (one of only two) from the American Institutes of Research based on a metastudy of comprehensive school reform research. Apparently, SfA missed being included in the first round of State applications since the States were only notifying commercial reading program publishers. There is also some question that SfA might have been required to conform to a three tiered structure (core program, supplemental materials, and remediation materials and failed to conform. In any event, SfA did make it onto and got approval in about 28 states. Bob Slavin, the creator of SfA, didn't like being excluded in so many states and lodged the initial complaint that started the OiG investigation of RF.
DI: Direct Instruction. Is an instructional system developed by Siegfried Engelmann that includes an effective reading program with 40 years of SBRR behind it. It also received the highest ranking (one of only two) from the American Institutes of Research based on a metastudy of comprehensive school reform research. Unlike SfA, Direct Instruction has a commercially available reading program, Reading Mastery, published by SRA McGraw-Hill that was eligible to be included in the RF program. Direct Instruction also has consulting companies, e.g., NIFDI, that manage comprehensive school implementations.
OC: Open Court. Is a commercially available reading program that is backed by limited SBRR. It is also published by by SRA McGraw-Hill.
McGraw-Hill is the publisher of the only two reading programs, DI and OC, that were both backed by validated SBRR and were eligible for RF funding. The chairman emeritus of McGraw- Hill is a political supporter of the Republican Bush administration.
Update: Updated the SfA description based on new information. 3:43 pm on 9/28.