As The ASHA Leader goes to press, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is expected to announce the availability of grant applications for the Early Reading First program, one of the literacy programs being administered under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Authorized at $75 million per year, Early Reading First is a competitive grant initiative designed to enhance reading readiness for preschool children in high-poverty areas and where there are high numbers of students who are not reading at grade level. Recognizing the important role of speech-language pathologists in language development in reading and literacy, the ED's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE, the agency administering Early Reading First) has asked ASHA to collaborate on the initiative.
OESE is looking for preschool reading/literacy programs that include pre-reading skills to serve as models for Early Reading First and other programs at the state or local level. ASHA made a call to members for the names of preschool reading programs, including available curriculum materials. Several members submitted programs, which were then reviewed by ASHA's Literacy Research Coordinating Committee, which is coordinated by Julie Masterson, vice president for research and technology, and chaired by Ron Gillam. Six programs were selected by the committee as potential model programs and forwarded to OESE for further review. The six programs were:
- Language-Learning Early Advantage Program (LEAP). Developed in the University of Maryland's department of hearing and speech sciences in 1992, LEAP is directed by Froma Roth.
- Language Acquisition Preschool (LAP) program. Begun in 1985, LAP is directed by Betty Bunce under the auspices of the department of speech-language-hearing and the Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at the University of Kansas.
- Emerging Language and Literacy (ELL) program. Staff at the Children's Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC) in Kansas City, MO, developed the ELL class in 1999. SLP Shirley Patterson is TLC's executive director.
- Cabrini-Green Preschool Language and Pre-Literacy Curriculum. This program was designed in collaboration with Head Start teachers, drawing on the research of Betty Bunce and in consultation with Ruth Watkins of the University of Illinois.
- Early Childhood Speech and Language Programs. Janet Lanza supervises these programs at the Miller Speech and Hearing Clinic at Texas Christian University.
- Animated Literacy. Animated Literacy is a reading and language program published by and available from J. Stone Creations.
For more information about Early Reading First, visit OESE's Web site at www.ed.gov/programs/earlyreading/index.html, or contact Catherine Clarke by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Action Center at 800-498-2071, ext. 4159.