Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report
This report presents preliminary findings from the Reading First Impact Study, a congressionally mandated evaluation of the federal government's $1.0 billion-per-year initiative to help all children read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) established Reading First (Title I, Part B, Subpart 1) and mandated its evaluation. This evaluation is being conducted by Abt Associates and MDRC with RMC Research, Rosenblum-Brigham Associates, Westat, Computer Technology Services, DataStar, Field Marketing Incorporated, and Westover Consulting under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
The present report is the first of two; it examines the impact of Reading First funding in 2004-05 and
2005-06 in 17 school districts across 12 states and one statewide program (18 sites). The report examines program impacts on students' reading comprehension and teachers' use of scientifically based reading instruction. Key findings are that:
- On average, across the 18 participating sites, estimated impacts on student reading comprehension test scores were not statistically significant.
- On average, Reading First increased instructional time spent on the five essential components of reading instruction promoted by the program (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension).
- Average impacts on reading comprehension and classroom instruction did not change systematically over time as sites gained experience with Reading First.
- Study sites that received their Reading First grants later in the federal funding process (between January and August 2004) experienced positive and statistically significant impacts both on the time first and second grade teachers spent on the five essential components of reading instruction and on first and second grade reading comprehension. Time spent on the five essential components was not assessed for third grade, and impacts on third grade reading comprehension were not statistically significant. In contrast, there were no statistically significant impacts on either time spent on the five components of reading instruction or on reading comprehension scores at any grade level among study sites that received their Reading First grants earlier in the federal funding process (between April and December 2003).
The study's final report, which is due early 2009, will provide an additional year of follow-up data,
and will examine whether the magnitude of impacts on the use of scientifically based reading instruction is associated with improvements in reading comprehension.