Review Finds Flaws in Reading First Program The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Inspector General released a report that found that the grant approval process for the Reading First program was fundamentally flawed because of ethics violations and favoritism. The report substantiates claims by publishers of reading programs that ED officials may have steered the ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   November 01, 2006
Review Finds Flaws in Reading First Program
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   November 01, 2006
Review Finds Flaws in Reading First Program
The ASHA Leader, November 2006, Vol. 11, 1. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.11152006.1
The ASHA Leader, November 2006, Vol. 11, 1. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.11152006.1
The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Inspector General released a report that found that the grant approval process for the Reading First program was fundamentally flawed because of ethics violations and favoritism.
The report substantiates claims by publishers of reading programs that ED officials may have steered the grants toward applicants that utilized a short list of favored reading programs, essentially shutting out other applicants. The report also found that the method used by ED to screen panelists for conflicts of interests-particularly those panelists with financial connections to publishers of commercial reading programs-was “not effective.”
ED also set requirements for the grant program that extended beyond what was required by the No Child Left Behind law, forcing some states to repeatedly revise grant applications several times to meet requirements, according to the report. Yet the report also noted that other grant applicants didn’t meet requirements set forth, but were approved anyway. The report also states that ED tried to dictate which reading curricula state and local governments must use. The findings in the report generally correspond with charges by critics of the program over the last several years as well as by reading experts and state officials.
The report called for a wholesale review of the billion-dollar Reading First program. ED Secretary Margaret Spellings pledged to swiftly adopt all the recommendations in the report and promised a review of every Reading First grant. About 1,500 school districts have received $4.8 billion in grants from the program, which is designed to improve reading instruction in disadvantaged schools through the use of research-based reading instruction.
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November 2006
Volume 11, Issue 15