BATON ROUGE, LA - Information provided by the Louisiana Department of Education
Louisiana has been selected to receive a $55.5 million Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) grant to improve the reading and writing skills of struggling students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Louisiana is one of 11 states selected to benefit from the federal grant, and the only state to receive it three consecutive times.
The grant, which will award the state $18.5 million each year for three years, will focus on advancing literacy skills--including pre-literacy, reading, and writing skills--for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities.
"Louisiana's children are as smart and as capable as any in America, and as a state, we have worked together to prepare them to meet high expectations," said State Superintendent John White, noting no other state made better progress in fourth grade reading on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. "Yet many Louisiana children struggle to read before fourth grade. Half enter kindergarten ready; by fourth grade, just 36 percent read and write on grade level. This grant will accelerate our progress by providing students and families with a strong foundation based in research, and supporting a cadre of reading and writing educator experts across the state."
The grant funds will be used to create competitive subgrants for Louisiana school systems. School systems will be asked to submit applications for these subgrants, and will be awarded funds based on the strength of their proposed literacy plans. The awarded funds will enable school systems to:
Purchase high-quality curricula aligned with the state standards;
- Administer meaningful assessments and use real-time data to meet the needs of all students;
- Accelerate the learning of all students reading below grade level through targeted intervention programs; and
- Provide professional development to support effective teaching practices.
"Any educational endeavor which brings much-needed awareness, resources, and professional learning around childhood literacy is welcome," said Dr. Cade Brumley, DeSoto Parish School System Superintendent and President of the Louisiana Superintendents Association. "It's a wise move for educators to focus efforts on this requisite building block for not only success in school but, more importantly, for success as a contributing adult member of society down the road."
The most recent SRCL grant builds on the success of the same grants received in 2009 and again in 2011. Those previous awards helped Louisiana create K-12 English Language Arts Guidebooks, a nationally recognized, free curriculum with daily lessons for reading and writing; build and expand a Teacher Leaders program, a statewide cadre of highly effective educators with a track record of improved student outcomes to provide training and model strategies for their peers; and conduct a full-scale rigorous review of 75 commercial reading curricula to make it easier for school systems to select and purchase high-quality curricula.
Louisiana is the only state to successfully compete for the federal grant all three times it has been available.
"This is great news for schools across Louisiana," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA.). "This grant will significantly help children in Louisiana by giving them the tools to develop advanced reading and writing skills that can be used years from now."
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) agreed, saying, "The ability to read is crucial to a young student's eventual success. Funding literacy programs like these and taking other legislative action, which includes addressing dyslexia, will help students reach their full potential."