Reading First is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also called the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The basic premise is that all children can and should learn to read well by the end of the third grade when given instruction tailored to meet their needs.
New York State has developed a list of districts that meet the qualifying requirements to write for this competitive grant funding, based on assessment data and poverty eligibility. This program reflects the scientifically based reading research findings compiled by the National Reading Panel.
The aim of this K-3 reading initiative is to provide systematic, explicit and consistent reading instruction in five areas of reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Comprehension and Fluency during a daily protected, uninterrupted 90 minute minimum instructional block. This systematic instruction is characterized by explicit instruction in which teachers clearly state what is being taught and model how the skill can be used.
Progress is monitored regularly through assessments that then guide the instructional plan for each child.
The four pillars of Reading First include dynamic instructional leadership, aligned professional development, valid and reliable assessments and instructional programs and aligned materials.
The Mid-State RSSC and Reading First
Currently the Mid-State Regional School Support Center provides minimal support to 28 school buildings in 10 Reading First districts as they complete their last year as part of the Reading First initiative. This support consists of:
· Regional Coaches assigned to each building to provide regular implementation visits, in-school professional development and technical assistance. Each district provides a Building Coach that works closely with the Regional Coach to provide the support services that match the specific needs of the teachers and students in that building.
· Monthly Regional Reading First Professional Development for Building Coaches and District Coordinators on topics aligned with scientifically based reading research regarding best practices, program implementation, data gathering and analysis, as well as turnkey trainings from New York State Education Department.