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Reading First (2004-2009)

Reading First is a federally funded initiative intended to provide high-quality reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade to ensure that every child is reading on grade level by the end of third grade. The Reading First (RF) program is grounded in scientific research and is part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Reading First is also designed to close the achievement gaps between different groups of students by ensuring that more children receive effective reading instruction in the early grades.

  • Louisiana was awarded funding in 2003, and full implementation of the program began in Fall 2004. Built on a solid foundation of research, Reading First was designed to help state and local educational agencies:
  • Establish reading programs for students in grades K-3 that are founded on scientifically based reading research, thereby ensuring that every student can read at or above grade level by grade 4;
  • Offer professional development and other support so that teachers have the knowledge and tools they need to identify and overcome their students’ specific reading barriers;
  • Select and administer screening, diagnostic, and classroom-based instructional reading assessments;
  • Select or develop effective instructional materials to assist teachers in implementing the essential components of reading instruction; and
  • Strengthen coordination among schools, early literacy programs, and family literacy programs to improve reading achievement for all children (NCLB, 2001).

The Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning is the external evaluator for Louisiana's Reading First program. The Center gathers not only outcome test score data for the evaluation, but investigates all aspects of the implementation to determine whether the program is implemented with fidelity to the federal requirements and the State's plan.