No Child Left Behind
The use of the scientific, research-based program Reading First will result in better reading skills for students. Reading First is the $900 million dollar reading initiative of President Bush's "No Child Left Behind". This important "new" way of teaching reading is based upon five components: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Using these methods of teaching and the amount of money available, no child will be left behind.
Why the focus on strengthening the reading skills of children? It has been proven that those students who can not read well are more likely to drop out of school and have lower-paying jobs. Reading is the “foundation for success in society” (Paige, 17). Those students that have a strong early beginning in reading have more successful school careers. Success in reading produces greater success in social studies, science, and math.
As a country we are failing our youth in reading. Approximately 40% of students in our nation cannot read at a basic skill level. The majority of students who cannot read on a functional level come from low-income homes. The percentage of fourth-graders from low-income homes is a staggering 70% (Paige, 17). Too often the parents of the children who need the most help do not ask for it, or know that options are available to them. With all the challenges that face lower-income families, they often do not seek out the help that their children may need. In one school system, a fund was set up for children to received additional tutoring outside of the classroom. It was left up to the parents to arrange for transportation to and from the tutoring sessions (Ghezzi, 1). The foundation for learning was set, but being able to carry through on the process fell through due to lack of understanding of the student’s background. NCLB is trying to accomplish what other programs have failed to do.
The Reading First program replaces the Reading Excellence Act passed by Congress in 1998. The REA provided state grants to support local teacher’s development and family based literacy programs (Manzo, 2). This program left many federal officials unhappy with how states distributed the money awarded to them and the lack of ways to measure the accountability of their programs. Some states did not receive grant money allotted to their state for support of the REA program.
Bush’s Reading First program seems to have a stronger backing than the previous attempts at turning America’s youth’s reading skills around. It has a strong focus on teaching in the classroom using the scientifically based reading research, $900 million dollars to back up the program (larger than any other), every state has the opportunity to receive money, and 20% of funds are to be used for state-level activities (Sopko, 2). The funds will be awarded over a six-year period. Of the money allotted to each state, 65% may be used for...