Earlier today, I wrote on the new Reading First evaluation study released late last week by the U.S. Department of Education. (http://blog.eduflack.com/2008/10/13/the-neverending-saga-of-rf-data.aspx) As I noted, this was an Abt Associates study, released by ED, and a follow-up to a 2006 study the Department conducted on RF effectiveness.
The links to the highlights and the full report can be found here — www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/readingfirst-final/index.html.
It is important to note that these promising results are coming out of ED’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Yes, Virginia, ED still has an evaluation office, even after IES has picked up and moved off to quasi-independence.
Why is this important? I don’t want some to get the impression that these promising results are the FINAL results to come out of the Institute of Education Sciences’ work on Reading First implementation. We are still waiting on the Final Study for that 2008 IES report, and we’ll likely continue to wait a while longer. While the ED/Abt study may be looking at similar issues and determining similar impact of RF, they are, indeed, two very different studies.
What does it tell us? Well, apparently the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development understands and appreciates the concerns and criticisms that were raised of the IES Interim Study. It addresses the issues of contamination in the samples, and notes that all schools — not just RF schools — have benefited from the Reading First program. It also shows that the contamination problem — one raised by Dr. Tim Shanahan on this blog and in other locations — was very, very real.
I guess it also shows us that duplication of effort isn’t necessarily a bad thing sometimes. Here’s hoping the researchers assembling the final IES study can learn a thing or two coming out of OPEPD and its PPSS division.