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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AWARDS EIGHT STRIVING READERS GRANTS

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"We know absolutely that students who cannot read well and read proficiently throughout their schooling are at risk of becoming disengaged, disaffected, and falling behind in their studies," said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings

The suspense is over: the U.S. Department of Education has finally announced the eight recipients of Striving Readers grants for the 2006 07 school year. While the official announcement did not come until March 22, the awards had been made public individually through announcement events and press statements issued in the eight locales over the last few weeks.

“We know absolutely that students who cannot read well and read proficiently throughout their schooling are at risk of becoming disengaged, disaffected, and falling behind in their studies,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings at a March 16 appearance with First Lady Laura Bush, announcing the Newark Public Schools’ Striving Readers grant. “The Striving Readers grants help more students get the skills they need to succeed in college and the workforce and in life.”

The grants, which will be funded over a 5-year period, range from $14 million to $24.5 million and will support the implementation of eight Striving Readers programs across the country. Each program will focus on middle and/or high schools with significant numbers of struggling readers, and each includes a rigorous evaluation component, to be conducted by independent researchers.

The eight grantees will use a variety of interventions, such as Read 180 and the Strategic Instruction Model, within several different traditional and nontraditional settings. For example, the Ohio Department of Youth Services will use its $14 million grant to address the literacy needs of students in grades 6 12 within state juvenile correctional facilities. Chicago Public Schools will use its $24.5 million grant to provide intensive interventions to struggling readers in grades 6 8 within an afterschool setting. The San Diego Unified School District, which received a $17.5 million grant, plans to implement a program it designed to focus on entering middle or high school students who struggle to read. Its goal is to have students reading at grade level and passing the California High School Exit Exam in grade 10.

The complete list of grantees is:

Grantee
State
Project Name
Grant Amount
(Over five years)
Chicago Public Schools
IL
Chicago Public Schools Striving Readers
$24,548,234
Danville School District
KY
Kentucky Content Literacy Consortium (KCLC)
$16,195,959
Memphis City Schools
TN
Memphis Striving Readers
$16,074,687
Multnomah County [Portland] School District #1
OR
Striving Readers Project
$23,536,956
Newark Public Schools
NJ
Newark Public Schools Striving Readers
$13,968,272
Ohio Department of Youth Services
OH
Striving to Achieve in Reading and Re-Entry (StARR)
$14,018,555
San Diego Unified School District
CA
Strategies for Literacy Independence Across the Curriculum
$17,574,149
Springfield and Chicopee Public Schools
MA
Springfield-Chicopee Striving Readers Program
$16,655,483

 

These initial grants were awarded based on the $24.8 million first-year funding level that Congress approved for the Striving Readers program for fiscal year 2005 and the increase to $29.7 million it received in fiscal year 2006. Although these awards are an important first step, this level of funding does not begin to meet the needs of schools and students across the country demonstrated by the fact that the department, according to Secretary Spellings, received a total of 140 grant applications.

The president’s fiscal year 2007 budget requests $100 million for the Striving Readers program, an increase of $70.3 million. An additional 60 to 70 Striving Readers intervention awards could be made if that funding level is approved.

“As we spend a lot of time and attention on those first three years first grade through third grade making sure children have a great start in learning to read, and a great basis, we can’t ignore the children who’ve already made it this far and can’t read,” said Mrs. Bush. “But we know that with stronger reading skills, these students are more likely to graduate, less likely to drop out of school, and more likely to go on to be able to find good jobs.”

Secretary Spellings’s and First Lady Laura Bush’s remarks are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/03/20060316-5.html.

Additional information on the Striving Readers program and the individual grantees is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s Striving Readers website at http://www.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/index.html.

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