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We ensure that children who struggle in learning to read and write gain the skills for a literate and productive future.

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What Works Clearinghouse analysis

Reading Recovery and Common Core State Standards
Reading Recovery can play a vital role in ensuring that students are able to meet the goals of the Common Core State Standards. Free resources include a 20-minute webcast, an article from The Journal of Reading Recovery, and a report from RRCNA.



altRRCNA is the only association advocating exclusively for Reading Recovery and early literacy intervention.

Hot Topics

RRCNA calls for federal funding for comprehensive literacy

As a member of the national Advocates for Literacy coalition, RRCNA supports increasing the federal commitment to improve literacy instruction through evidenced-based practices. In a letter of support, Advocates for Literacy is lobbying House and Senate members for a $190 million appropriation in FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations for the LEARN program. 

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The new LEARN program, authorized under Title IIB of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides competitive grants to states to help school districts develop comprehensive literacy instruction plans focused on high-quality instruction and evidence-based interventions for all students from birth through grade 12. School districts will use federal funds to support high-quality professional development for teachers, teacher leaders, principals and specialized instructional support personnel to improve literacy instruction for struggling readers and writers, including English language learners and students with disabilities. LEARN is the only targeted federal literacy funding for birth-through-grade-twelve teacher professional development and research-based interventions for students who cannot read and write well enough to progress in school through high school graduation. 

Research clearly demonstrates that a high-quality, literacy-rich environment beginning in early childhood is one of the most important factors in determining school readiness and success, high school graduation, college access and success, and workforce readiness. Graduating globally competent citizens depends on students using reading and writing skills to develop important abilities in such areas as math, science, and technology. A strong federal commitment to literacy is imperative to ensure this nation’s students graduate from high school with the skills needed to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce. 


Congress Authorizes Funding for State Comprehensive Literacy Grants 

The U.S. Department of Education will see a $1.2 billion funding increase as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of FY2016. $190 million will fund state comprehensive literacy development as well as educational programs that advance literacy skills including reading and writing. The omnibus package will fund the government through the end of September 2016, but because education programs are generally forward-funded, school districts will most likely not see the money until the 2016-17 school year.

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Under Section 1502 of the Every Student Succeeds Act
$190,000,000 shall be available for a comprehensive literacy development and education program to advance literacy skills, including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing, for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities.

State educational agencies shall ensure that at least 15 percent of the subgranted funds are used to serve children from birth through age 5; 40 percent are used to serve students in kindergarten through grade 5, and 40 percent are used to serve students in middle and high school including an equitable distribution of funds between middle and high schools.

Funds may be used for services and activities that have the characteristics of effective literacy instruction through professional development, screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and other research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice.

ESSA Prioritizes Comprehensive Literacy Programs

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed by the Senate on December 9, following House passage on December 2. President Obama signed ESSA on December 10. This is the first reauthorization of ESEA (1965) since NCLB of 2001.

ESSA largely restores control to states for accountability and policymaking decisions and allows them to set their own performance standards. It requires states to put into place locally designed evidence-based strategies and develop strong systems for school improvement to meet the unique needs of their students.

The new law authorizes more than $15 billion a year in formula funding plus competitive grant opportunities. Following a 2016-17 transition year, ESSA would be fully implemented in the 2017-18 school year.

RRCNA and other members of the national Advocates for Literacy coalition are pleased that the LEARN Act language, a state comprehensive literacy program proposal, is included in the bill and assures that one-to-one instruction is an allowable use of funds. We will continue to stress Reading Recovery’s evidence-based effectiveness — acknowledged by the What Works Clearinghouse and others — as a proven beginning reading intervention that works for struggling readers and writers.

The bill allows state educational agencies to target funding to schools whose literacy needs are high while allowing local education agencies to decide on the best interventions for students. A comprehensive literacy program must align early childhood, elementary school, middle grades, and high school so that teachers can collaborate across academic levels and students have seamless literacy learning.

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Among the definitions of interest:

Comprehensive literacy instruction

  • Includes individual and small-group instruction and discussion

  • Uses age-appropriate, valid, and reliable screening assessments and formative assessment process to inform instruction and monitor the child’s progress

  • Depends on teachers’ collaboration in planning, instruction, and assessing a child’s progress and on continuous professional learning

Evidence-based strategies

Funding priority to evidence-based activities that ensure high-quality instruction and effective strategies in reading and writing. In addition, competitive grants will target states that are “coordinating with institutions of higher education to strengthen and enhance preservice courses for students preparing to teach children in explicit, systematic, and intensive instruction in evidence-based literacy methods.”

Other important aspects of ESSA

  • Testing administration schedule for reading, math and science is the same as in NCLB

  • Reporting remains the same: Student results by whole school, gender, race, poverty, English learners, disability status

  • Measuring performance: Expands indicators beyond state assessments

  • Accountability: Each state will set its own accountability goals—which may or may not include Common Core standards

  • Other changes: No federal teacher evaluation mandate, new adaptive testing allowances, federal guardrails to identify schools with struggling subgroups, schools create own plans for school turnaround, new programs to expand access to quality preschool programs


Update on ESEA Reauthorization
Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, S. 1177 Passes the Senate 81-17
On Thursday, July 16, just a week after the Senate began deliberations on the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), S. 1177 was passed. The bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Important to Reading Recovery is that the ECAA includes the LEARN Act language in Title II, Part D. The bill allows state education agencies to target funding to schools whose literacy needs are high while allowing local education agencies to decide on the best interventions for students who are economically disadvantaged, have disabilities, and/or are English learners. This comprehensive literacy program aligns early childhood, elementary school, middle grades, and high school so that teachers can collaborate across academic levels and students have seamless literacy learning. 

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A total of 178 amendments were proposed and 165 were adopted. The Senate chose to adopt an amendment that would require 60 votes in the affirmative on certain amendments for acceptance. It appears this action was in response to remarks that the President would veto the final bill if it contained language in conflict with the administration’s commitment to Title I, which is designed to assist states in meeting the academic needs of disadvantaged students. By the end of that first day, agreement had been reached on nearly 20 amendments.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced an amendment that would allow a state to submit a declaration of intent to the U.S. secretary of education to combine certain funds to improve the academic achievement of students. Because they did not achieve 60 votes in the affirmative, the amendment could not be agreed to.

Another amendment was introduced by Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), that would allow states to let federal funds for the education of disadvantaged children follow those children to an accredited or state-approved public or private school or supplemental educational services program. The amendment did not pass (45-52).

The amendments that were agreed to cover a broad range of issues with minimal controversy.

Since the House of Representatives passed its ESEA reauthorization bill last week (see below), we expect a House-Senate Joint Conference Committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills. Where both bills include the same language, those provisions will be accepted. However, where there are differences or where one bill includes a specific provision and the other does not, the joint committee must come to agreement on whether to create compromise language or take the language from one bill over the other. Upon completion of this process, the final bill moves back to each chamber (Senate and House) for a vote, and if passed moves to the President for signature.
Student Success Act, H.R. 5
The House bill to reauthorize the ESEA, the Student Success Act, H.R. 5, was introduced in the House in February and reported out of the House Education and Workforce Committee later that month. Although H.R. 5 was scheduled for the floor vote on February 27, the bill was subsequently stalled until July 8, when it passed by a vote of 218-213.

The bill restricts the role of the federal government by restoring authority to the states and to local educational agencies. In fact, the language in the final House bill specifically restricts the authority of the U.S. secretary of education in matters historically residing with the states and local educational agencies.

While preserving the requirements for data collection by racial and ethnic groups, H.R. 5 leaves to the states the authority to determine academic standards and criteria for measuring student achievement. Amendments from both Democrats and Republicans are being introduced and receiving bi-partisan support. However, the Republican majority has ensured support for such issues as elimination of federal mandates, consolidation of federal education programs to provide greater flexibility, Title I portability, and reductions in reporting requirements.


Bipartisan Senate ESEA Bill a good first step

Senators Lamar Alexander, R-TN and Patty Miller, D-WA the chairman and ranking member of the education committee, respectively, are sponsors of an ESEA reauthorization bill being heralded as a “good first step.” Formally titled the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” key provisions address Title I, accountability, data collection, academic standards, student assessment, teacher evaluation systems, and more.

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RRCNA and other members of the national Advocates for Literacy coalition are pleased that the LEARN Act, a comprehensive state literacy program proposal, in included in the bill. Link to a summary of the proposed legislation and Advocates for Literacy letter of support.

Reading Recovery expands efforts to secure increased Congressional support for comprehensive literacy programs
RRCNA, along with other literacy advocates drafted and signed on to a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), urging them to provide strong leadership to expand federal support to improve reading achievement among those students most disadvantaged economically.

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In addition, Advocates for Literacy secured Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and six other members of the House of Representatives—Steven Cohen (D-TN), David Loebsack (D-IA), James McGovern (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mark Pocan (D-WA), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Charles Rangel (D-NY—to co-sponsor the LEARN Act, H.R. 858. The LEARN Act would establish a comprehensive literacy program funded by the Department of Education. It is expected that a Senate companion bill will be introduced in the coming weeks.

RRCNA and other literacy advocates were successful in securing Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WA) to introduce Amendment # 18 at the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Mark up of its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), H.R. 5, Student Success Act. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by voice vote. The amendment, if adopted, would have incorporated into the House ESEA bill the key provisions of H.R. 858.

Regarding the FY-2016 President’s budget, the U.S. Secretary of Education has requested that the Striving Readers Program continue to be sustained at the FY-2015 level at $160 million, though the department has significantly changed some key provisions of the program. Advocates for Literacy are working to return the program to being “comprehensive” once again.