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For Immediate Release
Friday, August 13, 1999
Contact:Jonathan Palumbo

Massachusetts is Awarded $18 Million for Early Reading Improvement

Malden - Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll announced today that Massachusetts has been awarded a three-year, $18.3 million Federal grant to improve reading instruction and achievement of students in the Commonwealth by grade three.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy confirmed yesterday that Massachusetts has been selected as one of only 17 states to win a grant under the new "Reading Excellence Program".

Commissioner Driscoll said, "I am delighted that Massachusetts has been selected to receive this grant, and I appreciate the support we have received from Senator Kennedy, Governor Cellucci and the leadership on Beacon Hill. I intend to apply these funds to the most important challenge we have in public education - ensuring that all students read and read well early in their schooling. Ultimately, I expect to see significant progress reflected in our new third grade assessment program in reading."

Governor Paul Cellucci said, "This grant is great news for thousands of students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Swift and I have made education our top priority, because a quality education opens the door to success and opportunity. Learning to read is the first step towards a bright future."

Five major purposes of the program are to: Provide children with critical reading readiness skills and support by the time they enter school; teach every child to read by the end of third grade; improve the instructional practices of teachers and administrators; expand the number of high-quality family literacy programs; and provide additional support for students having difficulty making the transition from kindergarten to grade one.

More than $17 million will be awarded to eligible school districts through competitive grants. The remaining funds will be used to provide professional development activities for grant recipients, and to evaluate the program's effectiveness.

The newly-formed Massachusetts Reading and Literacy Partnership, whose members were appointed by Governor Cellucci and Commissioner Driscoll, will advise the Department of Education on the program's implementation.

In September, more information on the Reading Excellence Program will be available on the Department of Education website.

Last Updated: August 13, 1999
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