Table of Contents

    Cover Theme
  • "Rewriting the Script"

    Together, the following eight articles outline how the standards-tests-punishment machine has subverted public schools from their democratic promise. With action, we can write a future where education isn't a soulless profit machine for the few.
  • Think Less Benchmarks

    A flawed test does more harm than good

    Authored By Amy Gutowski

    "Thanks to the folks at the Discovery Channel, that TV channel with the nifty little logo of the earth spinning, my 8-year-old students have four more opportunities to stop learning and fill in the bubbles."

  • Cover Story
  • Beyond NCLB

    Authored By Monty Neill

    A new era requires new thinking

  • Teaching in Dystopia

    Testing’s stranglehold on education

    Authored By Wayne Au

    "The problem is this: Testing is killing education. Not only is it narrowing the curriculum generally, it promotes bad pedagogy, while making some private companies very rich in the process."

  • Reading First, Libraries Last

    Scripted programs undermine teaching and children's love of books

    Authored By Rachel Cloues

    "In these bleak NCLB days of regimented, scripted reading programs and financially drained school districts, I am deeply worried about the future of elementary school libraries."

  • The Scripted Prescription

    A cure for childhood

    Authored By Peter Campbell, Peter Campbell

    Testing mania reaches the pre-K classroom.  "It saddened me to think that my daughter's first impression of school was based on taking a test and failing it."

  • Bogus Claims About Reading First

    Authored By Stephen Krashen

    When it comes to Reading First, don’t believe the hype

  • Textbook Scripts, Student Lives

    A math teacher goes beyond the standardized curriculum

    Authored By Jana Dean

    "Textbooks, published by corporations that have much to gain by maintaining business as usual, aren't likely to press students to envision a future any different from the past and present."

  • Bonfire of the Disney Princesses

    Authored By Barbara Ehrenreich

    Contrary to their spin machine, Disney’s princesses are far from role models

  • Underfunded Schools Cut Past Tense from Language Programs

    By The Onion

    "A part of American school curricula for more than 200 years, the past tense was deemed by school administrators to be too expensive to keep in primary and secondary education."
  • TV Selfishness and Violence Explode During 'War On Terror

    2nd graders discover new trends in TV since 9/11

    Authored By Margot Pepper

    "Six years into the 'War on Terror,' my 2nd-grade Spanish immersion students found that aggression, selfishness, and insults have exploded on national television."

  • Queer Matters

    Educating educators about Homophobia

    Authored By William DeJean, Anne Rene Elsebree

    "While we were excited to support the opening of the educational closet, unintentionally we became seen as the 'residential experts' for all things queer."

  • Feeding Two Birds With One Hand

    Why educators should demand a national health care plan

    Authored By Bob Peterson

    "I can't imagine any teacher union leader or local school board member who wouldn't welcome a new federal program that would make the issue of healthcare benefits a moot point in bargaining."

  • Building Teacher Solidarity

    Larry Kuehn talks about building ties between teachers in Canada, Mexico, and the United States

    translation missing: en.articles.interviewers Bob Peterson

    “I would really like to see a new movement that gives the kind of hope
    for change that there was when I came into teaching in the late 1960s.”

  • Cover Stories
  • The Power of Words

    Authored By Linda Christensen

    Top-down mandates masquerade as social justice reforms

  • Departments Free
  • Short Stuff
  • Resources
  • Review
  • Letters to the Editors
  • Good Stuff

    Authored By Herb Kohl

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Bogus Claims About Reading First

Bogus Claims About Reading First

Let's look at tests at the state level, national level, and tests that are part of international comparisons. Reading First fails at all three levels, producing no improvement.

"No improvement" really means failure: According to the Center for Education Policy, students in Reading First get an extra 100 minutes per week of reading instruction, or an extra semester every two years.

If Reading First were only mildly effective, there would be obvious improvement. In other words, we are comparing extra reading instruction to not teaching reading at all. (See Gerald Coles' book Reading the Naked Truth for a discussion of the importance of considering the question "compared with what"?) Of course, not all children are involved in Reading First, but this massive extra instruction should make a noticeable difference if it is effective.

State Level

A 2007 report from the Center on Education Policy resulted in claims of victory from the Bush administration. The report examined test score data on tests of reading from individual states, and focused on the percentage of children to achieve "proficiency."

I did a comparison of gains made before NCLB was implemented (2001-02) and after (2002-06) and found that the rate of improvement for 4th graders increased by less than one third of a percent, moving from 1.2 percent more children classified as proficient each year before NCLB to 1.51 percent after NCLB for the 11 states where data were available.

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