NY Times Article on Reading First and MMSD’s Reading Program

AMPS is committed to the 3 P’s: public support, proven practices and proper funding for public education. This post is focused on proven practices.

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about whether MMSD made a wise choice in turning down a $2 million federal grant for the highly-prescriptive Reading First Program. This NY Times article today (March 9) goes in-depth both on some of the results Madison has seen using its balanced literacy approach (which is much more student-specific than Reading First) and presents more information on exactly why the district turned the money down.

I have no interest in resurrecting curriculum wars in MMSD, but thought the data on what Madison is seeing as a result of its strategies and how the district listened to their own reading teachers and specialists in deciding to proceed with their approach is worth reading.

Beth Swedeen


Filed under AMPS, Best Practices, Local News, National News, No Child Left Behind

5 responses to “NY Times Article on Reading First and MMSD’s Reading Program

  1. Ed Blume

    21% of the third graders in the MMSD did not read at grade level, according to DPI data for November 2005. 24% of the 10th graders didn’t read at grade level.

    For black students, 46% didn’t read at grade level in the third grade; 49% did not read at grade level in the 10th grade.

    The MMSD must do better.

  2. Robert Godfrey

    Let’s have a reality check here. This, from the front page New York Times article yesterday.

    “Under their [Madison’s] system, the share of third graders reading at the top two levels, proficient and advanced, had risen to 82 percent by 2004, from 59 percent six years earlier, even as an influx of students in poverty, to 42 percent from 31 percent of Madison’s enrollment, could have driven down test scores. The share of Madison’s black students reading at the top levels had doubled to 64 percent in 2004 from 31 percent six years earlier.

    And while 17 percent of African-Americans lacked basic reading skills when Madison started its reading effort in 1998, that number had plunged to 5 percent by 2004. The exams changed after 2004, making it impossible to compare recent results with those of 1998.”

    Giving credit where credit is due. We have more to accomplish, for sure, but with increasingly less money coming from a dysfunctional state school financing system.

  3. Ed Blume

    The reality lies in the DPI data. From the DPI home page, click DATA and then WINNS. You can access the data from a number of different angles.

  4. Ed Blume

    “Gather ’round, kids, and learn how Wisconsin made a fool out of the statistically illiterate Diana Jean Schemo.”

    “NAEP scores for Wisconsin show that the number of proficient students was 34% percent in 1998 and dropped slightly to 33% in 2003 and stayed there in 2005, the last time fourth graders were tested for reading. Students scoring at the basic level dropped from 69% to 67% during this same period. From the period 1992-2005, the achievement gap between black and white students rose from 28 points to 33 points and the gap between poor and non-poor students dropped slightly from 28 points to 25 points. So, NAEP shows us that the reading proficiency of Wisconsin fourth graders has basically remained flat since about 2000. ”

    Go to : http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/03/madison-school-district-passes-up-free.html.

  5. Ed Blume

    Blogger K. DeRosa of D-Ed Reckoning provided a more plain English version of his earlier analysis: http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/03/madison-cooks-books.html

    “Madison is cooking the books.

    Its schools slightly underperformed Wisconsin schools and Madison’s other schools.

    In fact, NAEP data shows that the gains made by Wisconsin are illusory. It’s doubtful that scores rose at all in Wisconsin.

    If we look at only the schools in Madison that were eligible for Reading First funding, we see that these schools performed significantly worse than other schools in Wisconsin.

    So it appears that Madison’s Balanced Literacy reading program, which cost the district $2 million, failed to increase student performance in Madison and actually caused a relative decline in the schools that were supposed to get Reading First funding.

    This is exactly what we expect to see in your typical balanced literacy program, at-risk children failing to achieve. These are the children most damaged by “balanced literacy” programs, kids with low language skills and background knowledge. These were the kids that Reading First intended to serve.”

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