Monday, January 29, 2007

NCLB Reading First controversies

I'm not tracking the politics of NCLB and Reading First with any diligence and count on readers to alert me to some of the political controversies that have arisen (click here for prior FYI post about possible problems revealed in an audit of Reading First).

Today someone sent me a copy of an article (Reading for Profit) in the Chronicle of Higher Education. A copy of the article can be read by clicking here. I have no comment as I've not kept up with the issues, studied the charges and counter-charges, etc. All I can say is that most academic-scholars who are involved in commercial products (like myself---coauthor of the WJ III) need to stay extra-vigilant with regard to potential conflicts of interest in the current high dollar stakes of NCLB-driven local/state educational policy decisions.

It is within this ethical spirit that readers need to be aware that some folks see a fundamental tension between norm-referenced testing (like the WJ III battery I coauther) and CBM measures (which are mentioned in the article). Thus, folks may think I'm posting this FYI as I want to see the CBM camp have less influence. This is not my motive as, individuals who have heard me present, know that I find norm-referenced and CBM approaches as complimentary...not mutually exclusive. They perform different functions and are both needed to better educate high risk students and students with disabilities.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liz from I Speak of Dreams

Related to the Reading First brouhaha is this report from the Fordham Institute:

Amid ongoing debate about the federal Reading First program, a new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute exposes ineffective reading programs that dishonestly claim to be "scientifically-based" and thereby qualify for millions of dollars in public funds intended to help struggling children learn to read.

In the report, Whole-Language High Jinks, reading expert Louisa Moats offers advice for school officials, parents, and teachers about how to spot the fakes and identify programs that truly work.

"If this were medicine, the F.D.A. would never approve these reading nostrums as ‘safe and effective,'" commented Fordham Institute president Chester E. Finn, Jr. "Tort lawyers would be bringing class action suits against their vendors. The papers would be full of allegations of fraud, misrepresentation, and actual harm done by them. Education, alas, is not nearly so rigorous. Yet with the futures of countless schoolchildren at stake (not to mention lots of money), school districts would be wise not to take claims about programs' research evidence at face value. Dr. Moats performs a valuable service by helping consumers detect the phonies."