Search form

No Educator Left Behind: Reading First Effectiveness

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.


How will we know if Reading First is working?


Information to make that judgment will come from the states. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires each state to: (1) prepare an annual report showing the greatest gains in reading achievement; (2) reduce the number of children in grades 1-3 who are reading below grade level; and (3) increase the percentage of children overall who are reading at grade level or above.

In order to fulfill these requirements, states must measure progress in reading skills for children in grades 1-2; and, as prescribed by NCLB, states have to ensure that all children in grades 3-8 are tested annually in reading. Results of these assessments should soon provide clear evidence of Reading First's effectiveness. There is good cause for confidence, since the programs and practices that Reading First supports must already have been demonstrated as effective, based on solid scientific research. Through Reading First funds, grants will be available for state and local programs in which students are systematically and explicitly taught five key early reading skills:

  • Phonemic awareness: the ability to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds -- or phonemes -- in spoken words
  • Phonics: the relationship between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language.
  • Fluency: the capacity to read text accurately and quickly
  • Vocabulary: the words students must know to communicate effectively
  • Comprehension: the ability to understand and gain meaning from what has been read

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