October 10, 2006

Another Positive Editorial on the Reading First Scandal

Edward Moscovitch, evaluator for the Alabama Reading Initiative and co-founder of the Bay State Reading Institute, has a good editorial on the Reading First non-scandal (so far at least):
Under RF, actual purchase decisions are made by school districts, subject to rules set by state RF administrators. State programs, in turn, were funded based on evaluations performed by federal panels. The IG suggested that the composition of these federal review panels was not quite proper, but to argue that these panels improperly impacted selection of texts at the local level is a stretch. Indeed, the IG complained that some of the federal reviewers had improper ties to one program, but failed to note that few districts chose that program.
The IG report contains a bunch or different threads that never quite comes together. For example much is made of the RF director's connection to DI and the six panelists' connection to DI, but as Moscovitch points out "few districts chose DI."

Few districts chose SfA as well, that's why Slavin's pissed. (Slavin is the creator of SfA.) Then there's a few small players who didn't do their own research and got passed over.

Then there's the part of the story that has gotten short shrift:
Traditionally, DoE - and most state education departments - do not get involved in telling local districts which textbooks to buy or how to improve instruction. As one superintendent put it, the pattern is to tell the department what it wants to hear, take its money and then proceed to do what the district would have done in any case.
The bad guys. School districts and state DoE's that still want to use rebadged whole language programs no matter how many kids continue to fail to learn to read.

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