The Texas Reading First Initiative (TRFI) was part of the federal Reading First Initiative established through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The Reading First Initiative was designed to help states and local schools implement the findings of scientifically-based reading research. Its goal was to allow all students to achieve reading mastery by the end of the third grade. Funds were dedicated to help states, local districts and schools significantly reduce reading achievement gaps by establishing research-based, comprehensive reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade. This federal initiative was designed to provide professional development for teachers to implement scientifically-based reading programs, and to ensure accountability through ongoing, valid and reliable screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring assessments.
In Spring 2003, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) was awarded $79 million in Reading First funding to support the TRFI. The Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston was one of four partners helping to implement the TRFI. Additional TRFI partners were the University of Texas System (UT System), the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts (VGCRLA) at UT Austin, and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES) at the University of Houston.