Only three out of ten eighth graders read at or above grade level according to the 2004 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Readers who fell significantly behind risk school and workplace failure.

In 2003 three fourths of high school students graduated in four years, the National Center for Education statistics reports; the previous year just over half of African American and Hispanic students graduated at all.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act has set aside more than one billion dollars for Reading First established to provide comprehensive instruction in poor schools through third grade.

Thanks to Reading First and its precursor, the Reading Excellence Act, says Susan Frost, an education consultant and a former president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, "every K-3 teacher can receive the professional development necessary to teach reading well."

(excerpt from "Why Johnny (Still) Can't Read", Carol Guensburg,

 Masthead Photo: Girl scouts raise the American flag at the Traveling Vietnam Wall in Birmingham, AL.


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