Releases and Congressional Testimony
Northup Hails Final Report of National
Reading Panel as Much-Needed Resource in America's Classrooms
Source: Office of Congresswoman
Anne M. Northup, 3rd District of Kentucky
For Immediate Release Thursday,
April 13, 2000
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 13, 2000)
Today, Representative Anne M. Northup joined with the
National Reading Panel, the National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Department
of Education in releasing the Panel's long-awaited final
report, "Teaching Children to Read."
Rep. Northup led efforts to establish
the Panel with the introduction of her bill, H.R. 2192
in the 105th Congress. In 1997, Congress commissioned
the Panel as part of the FY98 Labor, Health and Human
Services Appropriations Bill in response to the growing
concern that America's children were being left behind.
"A child's success in school
and in life is dependent upon his ability to
read. That's why it is so discouraging that nearly 69
percent of America's fourth graders can't read at a
proficient level. It underscores the urgency of this
crisis. Congress has tried spending more money and implementing
new programs and so are many of our states, but our
children clearly are not getting what they need. Thankfully,
the National Reading Panel has delivered the knowledge
and the tools we have been lacking," Northup stated.
"The Panel's report gives teachers
and parents clear direction on how children learn, what
intervention is needed and when it is needed to develop
successful reading," Northup said. "Teachers
have been barraged with conflicting information
all claiming a scientific basis about how children
best learn to read. Now they will be equipped with scientific
research from a panel that is credible and independent.
I am convinced that so many teachers are yearning for
clearer direction on how to teach reading and that they
will embrace the findings of this Panel."
"A six year old is only six once.
If we don't reach these youngsters now, we can't come
back 15 years later and make it right. It is time for
action. The Panel's findings need to reach our schools,
teachers, parents and universities as soon as possible.
And literacy programs funded by Congress in the future
should reflect the findings of this Panel," Northup
The National Reading Panel was created
by NICHD and the Department of Education. It includes
14 individuals who are leading scientists in reading
research, representatives of colleges of education,
reading teachers, administrators and parents. During
the last two years, the panel held five field hearings
to consult with stakeholders in education and listen
to their concerns. They then assessed the current status
of research-based knowledge, including the effectiveness
of various approaches to teach children to read and
the readiness of application in the classroom.
The National Reading Panel found that
there is a clear and distinct pattern that children
go through as they learn to read. It starts with phoneme
awareness and phonics instruction, which leads to fluency.
It is important to understand that children won't become
fluent until they have the foundation of phonemes and
phonics established. In Kindergarten and first grade,
phoneme awareness and systemic phonics instruction are
essential for children at-risk.
The Panel's findings are welcome news
given the staggering statistics. In 1994, the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that
42 percent of fourth graders read below basic levels.
The 1998 NAEP showed that the situation was not improved.
The results found that 69 percent of fourth grade students
are reading below the proficient level.
This is confirmed by the 1999 National
Education Goals Report which finds that the U.S. has
failed to increase the percentage of students scoring
at or above proficient in reading for students in grade
four. The report indicates that only 31 percent of our
nation's fourth graders read at or above the proficient
level, meaning 69 percent of our students are failing.
In 1994, the NAEP revealed that reading
problems affect students in virtually every social,
cultural and ethnic group. According to the results,
29 percent of whites, 69 percent of African Americans,
64 percent of Hispanics, 22 percent of Asian Americans
and 52 percent of American Indians read below basic
levels in the fourth grade.
For more detail about the National
Reading Panel's report, please visit their website at
Return to Top of Page