October 9, 2006

Why the Silence on Reading

Sandra Stotsky, Former Senior Associate Commissioner Massachusetts Department of Education, has a good article that clarifies the Reading First scandal a bit:
Nowhere does the Inspector General's report provide evidence that Doherty or the publishers of a research-based program called Direct Instruction made money from the USDE's implementation of Reading First. The vast majority of Reading First schools in Massachusetts use the comprehensive programs published by three mainline publishers (Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, and Scott Foresman), all of which were approved by the USED.None uses the supposedly favored DI program.

Nor does the Inspector General's report provide evidence that Reading Recovery, a major complainant behind the investigation, lost money.In Massachusetts, at least 13 Reading First schools use the non-scientifically based Reading Recovery intervention program, while other Title I, non-Reading First schools also use Reading Recovery. Moreover, like many other state legislatures, the Massachusetts legislature again voted for a separate line item in the state budget for Reading Recovery; increasing its allotment to 2.9 million dollars this past year. South Carolina's legislature targeted over $3,000,000 for Reading Recovery this past year. And neither legislature has yet to ask for or undertake an independent evaluation of this program's long-term efficacy in the state. It's unlikely that other state legislatures require independent evaluations.

In case you wanted to know why the Feds have their nose in education, this would be it. But for the Feds, many states would have the unscientific Reading Recovery program as their main remedial reading program. And, no one seems to care that it doesn't work very well.

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