Nancy Bailey reviews the impact of No Child Left Behind and its ill-fated “Reading First” component. NCLB came to be a hated law yet stayed on the booksfrom 2002 until 2015, when it was replaced by the slightly less odious “Every Student Succeeds Act.” As if a federal law could make every student succeed.

Bailey writes that the demand that every child should learn to read in kindergarten is developmentally unsound and unrealistic.

The combination of NCLB, Race to the Top, and Common Core is frightful for young children.

“Teachers and their ed. schools are blamed when kindergartners don’t show up in first grade reading. Yet in years past we never expected kindergartners to read.

“It is developmentally inappropriate! We have monumental research by early childhood developmental researchers that goes back years. We know what is developmentally important to teach at what times.

“It’s important to remember too that students were never doing badly as indicated by NCLB proponents. Poverty was the real culprit when it came to student achievement.

“As far as learning to read goes, language develops from the moment a child is born, and there are many wonderful ways to promote the joy of reading.

“Some children easily acquire reading skills without formal phonics instruction. They are curious about words and are able to sound letters out as they listen to and enjoy picture books. They may read well before they start school.

“Other children learn a little later. And some with disabilities may need extra assistance with a formal phonics program.

“Repeatedly testing young children to find out how they read at such an early age would be better spent reading out loud lovely, funny, engaging picture books, and letting children develop their language skills through play!”