New Study of Montana Reading First Finds Substantial Progress, Struggling Readers Reduced

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
by Jessica Rhoades

The Montana Reading First program has helped Montana kids and teachers, said Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau.

New Study of Montana Reading First Finds Montana Readers Made Substantial Progress, Reduced Numbers of Struggling Readers

HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Reading First program has helped Montana kids and teachers, said Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. This week Juneau released a new report which found that the program has had a significant positive effect on students’ reading-comprehension skills.

"Reading is an essential skill for school and for life, and it's the building block to for academic success and life long learning," Juneau said.

The program — which gave grants to states to improve reading instruction for students in low-income schools in kindergarten through the third grade — was successfully implemented in at least 30 Montana schools over the last five years to the benefit of more than 11,500 students. The report also found that the Montana Reading First program, which the federal government ended in 2009, helped to decrease the achievement gap between American Indian and white students and between students living in poverty and those not living in poverty.

Juneau said that the program had a positive impact on more than just the kindergarten through third-grade students. Staff members received professional development and training as well as technical assistance to implement and sustain the program.

"These schools stand out as leaders in both achievement and improvement," said Juneau. "I am proud of the teachers, staff, students and parents in these classrooms. Their enthusiasm, hard work and creativity demonstrate that we can both maintain high standards and reduce the achievement gap. While we're sorry to see the program end, we hope these schools will continue to build on the progress they've made."

Through Reading First, states and districts received support to apply scientifically based reading research to ensure that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade. The program provided competitive grants to states that show the most promise for raising student achievement of children who are from families with incomes below the poverty line. Montana classrooms received the benefit of $19.6 million in support since the program began in 2004.

Read the Executive Summary of the report online here:

List of Participating Communities and Schools:

Billings District- Newman Elementary, Ponderosa Elementary
Hardin School District- Hardin Primary, Hardin Intermediate, Crow Agency
East Helena District- Eastgate Elementary, Radley Elementary
Hays Lodge Pole District- Lodgepole Elementary
Helena District- Warren Elementary
Butte District- West Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, Whittier Elementary
Centerville- Centerville Elementary, Stone Colony
Great Falls- Morningside Elementary, West Elementary, Longfellow Elementary
Charlo- Charlo Elementary
Dixon- Dixon Elementary
Libby- Asa Wood Elementary
Ronan- Pablo Elementary, KW Harvey Elementary
Frazer- Frazer Elementary
Harlem- Harlem Elementary
Box Elder- Box Elder Elementary
Rocky Boy- Rocky Boy Elementary
Stevensville- Stevensville Elementary
Somers- Lakeside Elementary
East Glacier- East Glacier Elementary
Evergreen- East Evergreen Elementary
Heart Butte- Heart Butte Elementary


Jessica Rhoades
Communications Director
p: 406.444.3160
c: 406.431.0151
f: 406.444.9299

Montana Office of Public Instruction
Denise Juneau, Superintendent

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