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STRIVING READERS ACT INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE: Act Mirrors Legislation Introduced in the Senate in March

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“The Striving Readers pilot program has been very effective, right here in Kentucky, at helping students, who are on the verge of dropping out of high school, graduate and become legitimate candidates for a full college education,” Yarmuth said.

On May 14, U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) introduced new legislation that would provide grants to every state for reading and comprehension programs to meet the needs of students in grades four through twelve. Representatives Allen Boyd (D-FL), Ben Chandler (D-KY), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Jo Bonner (R-AL), Ralph Regula (R-OH), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jason Altmire (D-PA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) joined them as original cosponsors.

“The Striving Readers pilot program has been very effective, right here in Kentucky, at helping students, who are on the verge of dropping out of high school, graduate and become legitimate candidates for a full college education,” Yarmuth said.

Called the Striving Readers Act, the legislation would help ensure that older students who are struggling to read and write at grade level receive the literacy interventions they need to succeed in school and graduate from high school with a meaningful diploma. Specifically, it would help states create statewide literacy initiatives for students in grades 4–12, share data on student progress with parents and the public, and improve teacher training and professional development in literacy so that all students receive high-quality instruction. Striving Readers would also provide funding to districts and schools to create plans to improve literacy, develop top-notch assessments, train teachers in every subject area in literacy strategies, and use data to improve teaching and learning.

“Congressmen Yarmuth and Platts are to be commended for addressing the needs of the millions of American middle and high school students who are not reading and writing at grade level, said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Striving Readers will provide these students with the supports they need to succeed in high school, college, and today’s competitive workplace. The federal investment will be returned many times over in an economy strengthened by many more high school graduates, higher wage earners, and more productive citizens.”

The Striving Readers Act mirrors legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 22 by U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Patty Murray (D-WA)Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Trent Lott (R-MI), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Pete Domenici (R-NM) joined them as original cosponsors of the legislation. In the time since the legislation was introduced, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Jon Tester (D-MT) have also signed on as cosponsors.

If signed into law, the Striving Readers Act would build on the existing Striving Readers program, but would be far more comprehensive than the original program, which was first funded at $24.8 million as a Title I demonstration program in fiscal year (FY) 2005. In recent years, the Striving Readers program has seen small increases, but has yet to see the funding that would allow its reach to extend beyond a handful of school districts. The Striving Readers Act would authorize $200 million in FY 2008 for the program, with increased funding through FY 2012, which would allow the program to expand to every state.

Brief Funding History of the Striving Readers Program

Fiscal Year

President Bush’s Budget Request

Final Authorization

2005

$100 million

$24.8 million

2006

$200 million

$29.7 million

2007

$100 million

$31.9 million

2008

$100 million

To be determined

 

Currently, only eight programs nationwide receive funding under the Striving Readers Act—even though the U.S. Department of Education received close to one hundred fifty applications in the initial competition and nine hundred intentions to apply for a grant. Additional grants are unlikely without a corresponding increase in funding. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education announced in March that it will use FY 2007 funds to continue to support the eight Striving Readers projects that were first funded in March 2006. The department also announced that it will not hold a new competition for additional awards in 2007.

More information on the Striving Readers Act is available at https://all4ed.org/federal_policy/legislative_updates/striving_readers.

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.