SFA's Bob Slavin Weighs In On Reading First

EXCLUSIVE: Bob Slavin (of Success For All and Johns Hopkins fame) deconstructs Bob Sweet's recent efforts to defend Reading First as "misleading half-truths."

In the following post, Slavin claims that the links between Reid Lyon and Rod Paige and Randy Best are clear, that DIBELS went from being unknown to everywhere assessment to almost every state's choice in five years, and that Scott Foresman's involvement and financial self-interest are clear. It's pretty detailed stuff, but invaluable reading if you're into this.

Writes Slavin:

"The Sweet response (Former House Staffer Takes On Washington Post Reading First Story) is full of misleading half-truths. For example, Reid Lyon and Paige are working for Randy Best, who owns the for-profit American College of Education and once owned Voyager. So it is true that at this moment Best is not involved with reading, but the linkage is clear.

"Yes, Grunwald overstates in saying that DIBELS is used everywhere, but the fact is, this assessment, unknown in 2001, is used in almost every state as the main Reading First assessment.

"Kame'enui's $100,000 to $250,000 in royalties may be in part from college textbooks, but he and Simmons were authors of the Scott Foresman remedial reading program that existed before Reading First, and they advertised it on their Reading First web site, and they were the authors of a supplement to Scott Foresman that states felt they had to buy if they wanted to use Scott Foresman under Reading First.

"Sweet notes that 9 out of 15 states that had a list included Success for All. I doubt that is true, but it is irrelevant. The fact is that through a variety of mechanisms, schools were informed that applying to use SFA was risky, while choosing the big five textbooks was safe. A total of 124 schools that were already using SFA (2.5% of the schools funded) were able to continue doing so under Reading First, but they did so under considerable pressure to drop or substantially modify SFA, and about 20 of these schools ultimately dropped SFA because of this pressure.

"The AIR report documents the fact that schools that never received Reading First funding were more likely to use SFA and DI than schools that did receive Reading First funding. Sweet notes that since there was no evidence on the big basals favored under Reading First, it is impossible to say that they were ineffective. Well yes, but I think the law had in mind a higher standard of evidence than "not proven to be ineffective."

Previous Posts: Reading First Rebuttal Update, Former House Staffer Takes On Washington Post Reading First Story


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