More than $180 million in grants were awarded to six states through the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, which helps states pursue a comprehensive approach to improving literacy outcomes for all children -- birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities. Thirty-five states applied for the funding.
Never before have grants been awarded by the U.S. Department of Education for literacy projects aimed at comprehensive state programs that encompass such a broad age range. The six winning states will hold competitions of their own to award 95 percent of the funds as “sub-grants” to local school districts and early learning providers.
The Striving Readers program requires states to use at least 15 percent of their grant funds to serve children from birth through age 5, while 40 percent must go toward supporting students in grades K-5, and 40 percent for middle and high schools with an equitable distribution between the two. The remaining five percent can be set aside for state administration of the grants.
“Supporting children's reading skills can help students build a lifelong love of learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will increase access to strong literacy instruction through innovative approaches by providing states and districts the flexibility they need to identify the literacy programs best suited to meet their students needs.”
The states winning the grants under the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program include:
- Georgia, $25,650,000.
- Louisiana, $28,500,000.
- Montana, $7,600,000.
- Nevada, $14,250,000
- Pennsylvania, $38,000,000.
- Texas, $66,500,000
Funds will support programs that advance literacy skills through professional development, screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and other research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice.
While only six states will receive discretionary grants, 48 states received formula funding in 2010 to create a state literacy team charged with developing a comprehensive state literacy plan.
Many of those states have made important progress in establishing literacy teams and developing draft plans that serve the literacy needs of children from birth through grade 12. The U.S. Department of Education will award a technical assistance contract this fall to provide training and support services to the 48 formula grantees as well as the six discretionary grantees.
This will include a grantees’ meeting, webinars, a Summer Literacy Institute, and other types of assistance depending on the needs of the grantees. The Department also plans to facilitate cross-state collaboration and resource sharing that will allow all states to benefit from the lessons learned as the six grantees implement their plans.
Under the administration's fiscal year 2012 budget proposal, reading and literacy programs would be administered under a new effort to be known as the Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy program. It would provide competitive grants to states alone or in partnership with other entities (such as nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education) in order to support comprehensive state and local efforts aimed at improving literacy instruction, especially in high-need schools for children and youth from preschool through grade 12.
The program would build on the progress the Department seeks to achieve with 2010 funds for the revised Striving Readers program, which consolidates reading programs segmented by grade level. The program would strengthen education for literacy by ensuring that all the elements of a comprehensive literacy program are embedded in state and local strategies, by strengthening performance expectations, and by supporting the identification and scaling-up of innovative methods of teaching reading, writing, and language arts.
For more information on the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders-literacy/index.html.