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No Educator Left Behind:

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.


Is there any information about the use of literature in conjunction with NCLB?


You raise an important issue. Reading is a learned skill, and literacy is the key that unlocks all other learning. But we must remember that grammatical concepts that are routine to adults can be difficult and frustrating for young children. Several years ago, Congress created a National Reading Panel to track more than 20 years of research and follow the progress of tens of thousands of children to determine how best students learn to read. This evidence-based research informs our $1.1 billion Reading First and Early Reading First programs, which use peer-reviewed grants to fund summer training for teachers, classroom reading coaches and other skills-based assistance.

More than 100,000 teachers and 1.5 million children in grades K-3 have benefited. And it's working -- according to the 2005 Nation's Report Card (NAEP), more reading progress was made in the past five years than in the previous 28 years combined, and more children are reading 20-plus pages a day.

All instructional elements funded by Reading First must reflect the findings of scientifically based research, including the effectiveness and importance of phonics. This has helped end the controversial "reading wars" by preventing the use of unreliable methods and untested fads. As children age, of course, they will seek out more advanced books to read, including literature. The Department of Education has made hundreds of thousands of books available to students in grades K-8 through our Summer Reading Achievers pilot programs.

And our new public-private Gulf Coast Summer Reading Initiative is enabling the donation of 250,000 volumes to communities affected by last year's hurricanes. We encourage all schools to offer a rich selection of reading materials that can hone skills and instill a lifelong love of reading. And parents should do their part by reading to their children and keeping plenty of fun and interesting things to read in the home.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.