No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
March 26, 2010

NYSUT NCLB Fact Sheet 10: Reading/Literacy Initiatives

Source: Research and Educational Services

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Statutory Summary

The federal programs authorized in ESEA and amended in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) include specific sections which create programs for states to raise student achievement in reading. The recent federal programs include the Reading Excellence Act (REA) (2001). [In NY renamed Reading for Results.] Reading First (2002) and Early Reading First (2002).

2010 Update: Federal funding for Reading First program under NCLB ended in 2009. When ESEA is reauthorized there may be new literacy initiatives.

Summary of Federally funded programs Early literacy in New York state

Reading First Facts 2004-2009 (NCLB) Grants are for 3 years

  • Grant from Federal government to State then sub-allocated to eligible districts through a competitive process
  • NY received $443,135,000 from 2004-2008
  • Districts were eligible to apply based on poverty data and ELA grade 4 scores

Reading First in NY Participants

  • Number of districts 98
  • Number of schools impacted 308
  • Number of teachers impacted 10,000
  • Number of students impacted 78,000

Data Source: NYSED – February 4, 2008

Reading First Funding Update 2008-09 and 2009-10

Districts receiving funding for Reading First in 2008-09 (current school year) have been notified that they will receive a small grant supplement for the balance of 2008-09. This will offset the reductions in funding that were necessary after federal support for Reading First were significantly reduced for this fiscal year. Reading First districts that are current grantees may also receive a grant extension for the 2009-10 school year to sustain the program.

If a school district accepts the grant supplement or extension, participating schools in the district are required to continue and sustain the Reading First model. Technical assistance and professional development through the Regional School Support Centers will be available until June 30, 2009. The New York State Reading Academy professional development on line will be available through June 30, 2010. Districts not currently receiving Reading First funds may be eligible to participate in the NY Reading Academy and other mini-courses. Criteria and procedures for participation in professional development by non-Reading First schools will be established by the New York State Education Department.

The application for the grant supplement and extension does not require signature, consultation or approval of the union president.

Purpose of Reading First

The primary goal of Reading First is that every student will read by the end of grade 3. Key elements include:

• Focus on K-3 teachers, special education teachers and students.
• Emphasis on direct instruction in five components of reading including; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, background knowledge and vocabulary and comprehension.
• Professional development using scientifically based reading research through the NY Reading Academy on line modules.
• Use of reading core instructional programs, assessments and materials that are based on scientifically based reading research.
• Building based literacy coordination with full time building literacy coach.
• Focus on multiple assessments including screening, diagnosis, and progress monitoring and outcome measurement.
• Required 90 minute daily uninterrupted literacy block.

Early Reading First in New York State (NCLB 2001)

• This federal grant program is awarded directly to applicants, not through states. Early Reading First supports the development of early childhood centers of excellence that focus on all areas of development, especially on the early language, cognitive, and pre-reading skills that prepare children for continued school success and that serve primarily children from low-income families. For application information go to

Expanding the Reach 2009 update

• This federal pilot grant program is awarded by the United States Department of Education directly to school districts.

Expanding the Reach provides professional development in early literacy strategies directly to a limited number of schools in a few states. The NYS Expanding the Reach schools are in four Long Island school districts: Roosevelt, Amityville, Hempstead and Central Islip. This program is not administered by the New York State Education Department.

Has Reading First accomplished the goal of improving reading achievement in grades K-3?

• In an April 19, 2007 press release titled, Reading First Achievement Data Demonstrate Dramatic Improvements in Reading Proficiency of America's Neediest Children, the USDOE stated that the state-reported data (26 states) reveals that students in Reading First schools largely demonstrated impressive gains in reading fluency and comprehension.

• Reading achievement data comparing NYS students who attended K-3 in schools receiving Reading First funds to students who did not attend K-grade 3 schools that received Reading First funds is not yet available.

Advice to Local leaders

1. 2008-09 Update:

Union presidents in currently funded Reading First districts should contact the administration immediately to determine if the district plans to apply for the funding supplement or extension. While SED does not require the union president involvement in the decision to apply for additional funding, the PDP team needs to be aware that the grant will continue to impact all K-grade 3 teachers in Reading First buildings.

2. Areas that a union may negotiate in contract language or a MOU related to Reading First include:

• substitute coverage for teachers on the design grant writing team
• the position of the building coach-teacher position? or administrative position? No role in evaluation.
• job and seniority protection for district employee who takes building coach position
• time/credit/compensation related to participation in on-line professional development and coaching activities
• how to include K-12 special education teachers in the grant activities
• linkage of Reading First to district Professional Development Plan

3. Some districts solicit teacher input by requiring a faculty vote to endorse participation in Reading First and some publishing companies require a faculty vote to endorse participation in a new core curriculum. Areas of conflict have arisen when a building faculty votes not to participate and the district wants to bring the funds to the district. A vote of 100% approval is very difficult to achieve on any change or reform effort. Locals are urged to be very clear about expectations of a vote, percentage required to approve, procedure for calling for a revote, and role of the union.

4. Work with your PDP team to be sure that the Reading First grant is consistent with and included in your district Professional Development Plan. This may involve amending your PDP. (See Information Bulletin No. 200806).

5. For more information contact your LRS, your Regional School Support Center (RSSC) or see the NYSUT website For the application process and a list of participating districts go to

6. The future of Reading First is uncertain in the reauthorization of NCLB. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) does not anticipate any new grants until NCLB is reauthorized.

For more information on the federal Reading First program, please visit:

For more information visit the New York State Education Department Reading First web site at: or the New York State Reading Resource Center web site:

New York State Education Department (NYSED) is currently conducting an evaluation of the effectiveness of Reading First grants. That report will be posted on the NYSED website

For New York data on Reading First, reported by the USDOE go to http://www.ed/gov/programs/readingfirst/data.html.


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