|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, October 2, 2002|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Massachusetts to receive $100 million in federal funds for Reading First
MALDEN - Massachusetts’ schools will receive nearly $100 million from the federal government over the next six years to implement the Reading First program, aimed at ensuring that all students can read at or above grade level by the end of third grade.
The federal program, one of the key pieces of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, set aside nearly $900 million this year to ensure schools use only effective teaching methods to teach reading. Massachusetts is one of 12 states selected to receive the funding.
“We made a down-payment on school reform last year, but we have a continuing and growing obligation to provide the resources that teachers and students need and deserve,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. “This grant for Massachusetts today is a step in the right direction.”
Gov. Jane Swift and Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll have established a Reading Leadership Team, which will oversee the implementation of the program across the state.
“Reading is one of the most important skills we can teach our students, and it is critical that all children learn to read well at an early age,” she said. “This award will help us to ensure that all students are given the skills they need to succeed in school, in college, and in life.”
Commissioner Driscoll agreed, and noted that on this year’s third grade reading MCAS exam, 94 percent passed and two-thirds scored at the proficient level or above.
“We’re proud of the progress we’re already making, but we know we still have a long way to go,” he said. “Reading is a prerequisite for all other subjects, and I am excited to have an opportunity to help our schools ensure every one of their students become strong readers at a young age.”
Massachusetts will receive $15.3 million this year. Of that total, 88 eligible districts will be able to apply for $12.2 million in sub-grant awards for professional development for teachers, comprehensive programs for students and to hire school-based reading specialists. The funding will also be used to support instructional assessment so teachers can identify reading barriers their students face, as well as monitor their progress.
The DOE will assist eligible districts in applying for the funds. Districts will control the allocation of the funds to their neediest schools.
As part of the professional development aspect, the state will train 70 master trainers who will conduct summer reading academies in 10 regions around the state. These academies will provide teachers with in-depth training on proven methodologies and assessments, including the five essential components of reading instruction (phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and text comprehension).
The other states receiving the Reading First awards are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Utah.