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California Reading First Initiative

[Archive Site]

This is a historical archive for California's Reading First programs. The site was used for communication and reference. As funding for the grant has ended, there may be areas which contain inconsistencies and/or incomplete information. This site reflects the status of Reading First at its close, unless otherwise noted.

Introduction to Reading First

Reading First is a national initiative, established under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Specifically, Reading First was authorized by Title I, Part B, Subpart I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. California was approved on August 23, 2002, to receive approximately $900 million, over a six-year period, to improve K-3 classroom instruction in reading provided that "substantial progress" is made toward the goal that by the end of third grade, all students are grade level proficient readers in English.

The California Reading First Plan calls for the use of one of two current State adopted, scientific research and standards-based English reading/language arts instructional programs, including an option to use the Spanish alternative version of the English program. Through a set of subgrant assurances, the successfully competing LEAs and their eligible schools agree to set high learning expectations for all students, implement explicit program components, which include the program's embedding instructional strategies; a pacing schedule; minimal, uninterrupted instructional minutes (60 minutes for kindergarten, 150 minutes for grades 1-3) and extended time for at-risk students (30-40 minutes): curriculum-embedded assessments every 6 to 8 weeks; professional development for teachers annually (120 hours); professional development for principals (80 hours initially with follow-up support annually); and instructional support systems (e.g., a coach per 30 teachers and content experts for support to coaches).

The State provides a technical assistance network to support the implementation of the Assurances. The California Technical Assistance Center along with nine Regional Technical Assistance Centers offer LEAs: