Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2022: Early Literacy Screening Assessment and Professional Development

Fund Code: 576

Purpose:

The purpose of the competitive Early Literacy Screening Assessment and Professional Development grant is to increase the use of valid, reliable early literacy screening assessments to inform instructional decision-making and planning in the early elementary grades.

This grant will provide funding to purchase and implement an approved early literacy screening assessment in grades K–2 or K–3.

The grant also provides funding to purchase professional development which focuses on using results from an approved early literacy screener to make data-based instructional decisions for students in grades K–2 or K–3.

The Center for Instructional Support (CIS) at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has vetted and approved several early literacy screening assessments, which meet criteria including validity, reliability, and usefulness. The list of approved assessments and criteria used can be seen here: Early Literacy Screening Assessments

Priorities:

There are two possible paths to receive this award.
Districts that do not have an approved screener should consider Path One. Districts that do have an approved screener and are seeking professional development to support data-based instructional decision-making should consider Path Two.

Path One: For LEAs without an approved screener:
Using funding from this grant, LEAs that do not have an approved screener may purchase one of the approved assessments and a training and support (professional development) package for teachers who will be using the assessment.

LEAs must also commit to:

  • Provide grant-funded, initial training to K–2/K–3 teachers: to support the implementation of an approved early literacy screener by October 1, 2021; and use the assessment's data to determine instructional decisions for K-2/K-3.
  • Assess all students in grades K–2 or K–3 in the participating schools using an approved screening assessment no later than October 8, 2021;
  • Make this screening assessment a permanent piece of the participating schools' early literacy program.
  • Participate in future research and data collection efforts. See "Additional Information" below for more details.

Path Two: For LEAs already using an approved screener
Using funding from this grant, LEAs may purchase professional development that focuses on using results from an approved early literacy screener to make data-based instructional decisions for students in grades K–2 or K–3.

LEAs must also commit to:

  • Provide grant-funded, initial training to K–2/K–3 teachers to: support the implementation of an approved early literacy screener, if needed, by October 1, 2021; and/or provide training in using the assessment's data to determine instructional decisions for K–2/K–3 by October 29, 2021.
  • Assess all students in grades K–2 or K–3 in the participating schools using an approved screening assessment no later than October 8, 2021;
  • Make this screening assessment a permanent piece of the participating schools' early literacy program.
  • Participate in future research and data collection efforts. See "Additional Information" below for more details.

Districts and Charter Schools may Not use funding from this grant to replace an existing approved screener. This grant is intended to increase the number of districts using an approved screener and provide professional development for implementation and data-based instructional decision making.

Eligibility:

Public school districts, charter schools, collaboratives, and approved special education programs that serve students in grades K–2 or K–3 are eligible to apply. LEAs may determine the number of schools, and which schools, within the district will participate.

Competitive priority will be given to LEAs based upon demonstrating one or more of the following:

  • at least one elementary school identified as requiring assistance in the state accountability system based upon 2019 data
  • a majority of participating K–2 or K–3 classrooms are currently using high-quality core curricular materials for ELA/Literacy, as defined by a rating of "Partially Meets Expectations" or "Meets Expectations" on EdReports or CURATE
Funding Type:

Federal (GEER Funds) CFDA: 84.425

Funding:

A total of approximately $600,000 is projected to be available and will be distributed based on the number of quality proposals submitted and the total cost of the training and support packages chosen.

The maximum award for any LEA is $100,000. LEAs must identify which schools would participate in receiving funding in their proposal.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding becomes available, it will be distributed under the same guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

Path One:
Funds may be used to purchase:

  • materials for an approved early literacy screening assessment, including necessary hard-copy materials and/or site licenses, for use with all K–2 or K–3 students in participating schools.**
  • a one-year training and support package from the assessment vendor, which typically includes introductory training for staff and ongoing consultation and support throughout the first year of assessment use.

** If the materials are hard-copy, a two-year supply may be purchased. If the materials are digital, a two-year subscription may be purchased.

Path Two:
Funds may be used to purchase:

  • a one-year professional development package which focuses on implementing an approved early literacy screener assessment and/or using the assessment's results to make data-based instructional decisions to support K–2 or K–3 students

Funds for substitutes are not allowable under this grant.
Funds for stipends are not allowable under this grant.

Funds may not be used to purchase technology (e.g., iPads, headphones), data systems (e.g., a subscription to an assessment's database or data analysis tool if such systems cost extra), or instructional resources (e.g., instructional materials, student activity materials, or digital resources associated with the assessment).

Project Duration:

Upon approval through 6/30/2022

Program Unit:

Office of Literacy and Humanities,
Center for Instructional Support

Contact:

Dr. Mary Brown

Date Due:

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. on the date due. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals before the grant deadline.

Required Forms:
Additional Information:

Universal screening and dyslexia

An approved early literacy screener will measure students' risk for experiencing reading challenges, including but not limited to their risk of dyslexia, as referenced in Chapter 272 of 2018. Dyslexia is defined by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word reading that are unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Universal screening assessments are not intended to determine eligibility for specific learning disabilities including dyslexia. Rather, they inform instructional planning at the Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 levels. DESE's forthcoming guidelines for screening for risk of dyslexia and related neurobiological conditions will provide additional details.

Participation in future research

LEAs receiving this award will be required to participate in future research efforts related to early literacy assessment, including:

  • Providing student-level assessment data from the early literacy screening assessment acquired under this grant program to DESE on an ongoing basis for research purposes. Analyses will only be reported in the aggregate (e.g., by grade-level, region, etc.) in order to meet state and federal confidentiality laws. The identities of districts and schools will not be reported. All reporting will protect the identities of students, educators, schools, and districts.
  • Participating in DESE's future research efforts to understand early literacy assessment, achievement, and instructional practices, which may involve surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups with LEA and school staff, including, but not restricted to district and school leaders, literacy and reading specialists, and classroom teachers.
  • Designating an individual to be responsible for data submission and to serve as a liaison between the LEA and DESE for communication about data collection and evaluation efforts.

DESE will work with districts and schools to set consistent reporting formats and schedules for submitting student-level assessment data. Typically, DESE contracts with third-party, independent researchers selected as part of an open competitive bidding process. In some cases, Department staff conducts research directly. It is possible that Department research staff may access and analyze submitted data. The specific research strategy and research partner for this work has not yet been identified.

Any grant related questions must be emailed to Dr. Mary Brown . Responses will not be sent directly to the questioner. All Questions and Answers will be posted to the Early Literacy Screening Assessments page on the DESE website.

Submission Instructions:

Please email the required documents as listed above, attached to a single email, to mary.l.brown@mass.gov using the subject line EARLY LITERACY SCREENING GRANT. Please use the provided filetypes (word and excel). Signature pages should be sent as word or pdf documents.

Applicants will receive a confirmation when the materials are received. Early submission is strongly encouraged to ensure the complete application is received and confirmed by 5pm on the due date.

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter the approved budget and Part I in EdGrants. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

Last Updated: April 12, 2021

 
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