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Reading First: Designing State-Level Support. Sharon Walpole Michael C. McKenna University of Delaware University of Virginia. Overview. Describe our charge as professional development architects for Reading First in Georgia;

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reading first designing state level support

Reading First:Designing State-Level Support

Sharon Walpole Michael C. McKenna

University of Delaware University of Virginia

  • Describe our charge as professional development architects for Reading First in Georgia;
  • Position that work as an ongoing formative experiment;
  • Describe a potentially more powerful design, if Reading First is reauthorized.
some facts about garf
Some Facts about GARF

The state grant was approved in Sept., 2003, and funded at approximately $30 million per year. Currently, we are in year 4 of 5.

In addition to the funded schools, the state provides extensive professional development support to other schools and to individual teachers.

We won a competitive contract to design professional development for the state staff in 2004, and then again in 2007.

All of our work in this project is available for review at our website

some facts about garf4
Some Facts about GARF

The state awarded grants to schools in a competitive process, using a group of individual grant reviewers who were solicited in an open call; these individuals reviewed and scored grants, and then schools were funded based on their recommendations.

The state never issued a list of approved programs for purchase, but required schools to engage in a review and/or to use a review conducted by one of the national technical assistance centers. One vendor complained about this process, as it was not in the state’s original plan.

some facts about garf5
Some Facts about GARF

In January of 2007, the Office of Inspector General issued its final audit report to investigate grant awards. There was one general finding.

“GDOE Did Not Have Written Policies and Procedures and Did Not Adequately Manage the LEA Grant Application Process”

The state drafted new policies and procedures in response to the OIG recommendations.

a pragmatic perspective
A Pragmatic* Perspective

Pragmatic theory directs researchers to address socially-situated problems whose solutions contribute broadly to a more democratic way of life.

Pragmatists allow contributions from research literature and from the world of practice to be combined in the search for solutions to problems.

*Dillon, O’Brien, & Heilman, 2000

a pragmatic perspective7
A Pragmatic* Perspective

The Reading First portion of NCLB is potentially positive for low-performing schools;

Advocacy for good instruction is not inconsistent with the statute;

One way to advocate is to participate directly;

States have very limited infrastructure for making complex design decisions related to reform, but are making good-faith efforts (Sunderman & Orfield, 2006)

Reading First is an opportunity, not fully realized, for the reading research community

*Dillon, O’Brien, & Heilman, 2000

Our Charge:

Design a professional support system for the Reading First team in Georgia.

A Policy Seesaw

High High

Low Low



federal regulations

Flexibility of implementation in state and local contexts

A Policy Seesaw

High High

Low Low



federal regulations

Flexibility of implementation in state and local contexts

Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F., & Katch, L. E. (2004). Beyond the reading wars: Exploring the effect of child-instruction interactions on growth in early reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 8, 305-336.

Dillon, D. R., O'Brien, D. G., & Heilman, E. E. (2000). Literacy research in the next millennium: From paradigms to pragmatism and practicality. Reading Research Quarterly, 35, 10-26.

Duffy, G. G., Roehler, L. R., Sivan, E., Rackliffe, G., Book, C., Meloth, M. S., Vavrus., L. G., Wesselman, R., Putnam, J., & Bassiri, D. (1987). Effects of explaining the reasoning associated with using reading strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 347-368.

Guskey, T. R., & Sparks, D. (1996). Exploring the relationship between staff development and improvements in student learning. Journal of Staff Development, 17(4), 34-38.

Joyce, B., & Showers, B. (2002). Student achievement through staff development (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Reinking, D., & Bradley, B. A. (2004). Connecting research and practice using formative and design experiments. In N. K. Duke & M. Mallette (Eds.), Literacy research methodologies (pp. 149-169). New York: Guilford Press.

Sunderman, G. L., & Orfield, G. (2006). Domesticating a revolution: No Child Left Behind reforms and state administrative response. Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

Pearson, P. D., & Gallagher, M. C. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology,8, 317-344.

Tabak, I. (2006). Prospects for change at the nexus of policy and design. Educational Researcher, 35, 24-30.

Whitehurst, G. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (2002). Emergent literacy: Development from prereaders to readers. In S. B. Neuman & D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research (Vol. 1, pp. 11-29). New York: Guilford Press.