Thursday, March 09, 2006

Reading Thursday: The Spellings Report

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is announcing that two Massachusetts school districts are receiving some big-money grants to improve students' reading skills test scores:
Springfield Public Schools and Chicopee Public Schools (Massachusetts) will receive a $16.6 million Striving Readers grant over five years to improve the literacy skills of struggling adolescent readers, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced today. Secretary Spellings made the announcement during a visit to Springfield High School of Science and Technology with U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.

"Reading is the foundation of all learning, a key factor in earning a high school diploma and a ticket to success in the 21st century," said Secretary Spellings. "The Striving Readers grants help more students get the skills they need to succeed in college and the workforce and in life."

The Springfield-Chicopee Striving Readers Program will focus on the reading and writing abilities of more than 7,000 students in grades 9-11 through the continued work of the Smaller Learning Communities project. The program also anticipates training more than 500 teachers and 10 literacy coaches and will employ two targeted interventions for struggling readers, including READ 180 and the University of Kansas' Strategic Instruction Models (SIM) Content Literacy Curriculum. The evaluation of the program will be conducted by Brown University's Education Alliance.

A total of $30 million will be awarded for the 2006-07 school year to support the implementation of eight Striving Readers programs across the country. The programs focus on middle and high schools that have significant numbers of struggling readers and that are striving to meet No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress requirements in reading. They include a range of research-based adolescent literacy projects serving diverse populations. Each program includes a rigorous evaluation conducted by independent researchers. The president's 2007 budget requests a $70.3 million increase in Striving Readers for a total of more than $100 million.
I wish somebody in our school district would have applied for one of these grants. Our home county of Imperial is the poorest in California, and our students certainly could have used the money.
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