8 Mar 2007
Hiebert, E.H.(2005). State reform policies and the reading task for first graders. Elementary School Journal, 105, 245-266.
Since the late 1980s, reading reform efforts in California and Texas have led to changes in beginning reading textbooks. This article examines the effects of these policies on the task that current (2000/2001) texts pose for beginning readers. I begin by reviewing trends in textbooks over the past 80 years and continue by identifying cognitive and linguistic dimensions of the beginning reading task. These dimensions, such as word repetition, are used to describe the beginning reading task of current and historical textbooks. Analyses showed that 41% of the unique words in current textbooks appear once in 10 consecutive texts. Further, between 1962 and 2000, the number of unique words increased substantially, whereas word repetition was curtailed. One conclusion from these data is that current entry-level first graders are expected to acquire new words at the same pace as exiting second graders.