Oct 2, 2009 3:19 PM by sleonard

Louisiana Receives Federal Grant for Struggling Readers

One of Louisiana's primary education initiatives is ensuring literacy for all students. A recently announced grant of more than $1 million will help enrich the state's current efforts. Louisiana is one of eight states to earn a portion o f the highly competitive Striving Readers grant. Awarded by the United States Department of Education (USDOE), the grant brings Louisiana's total federal funding dollars this year to $25 million. The state is eligible to receive an additional $4 million from the USDOE, depending upon continued Congressional approval of funding for the program.

Designed to improve basic reading, vocabulary and comprehension skills of students, funds from the grant will be used to specifically support intervention programs in middle and high schools with high populations of low-income students - designated as Title I schools.

Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-LA), who co-sponsored the Striving Readers Act of 2007, emphasized the critical role that literacy plays in minimizing the impact of poverty. "As the husband of a career educator, I understand and believe in the value of a quality education," said Congressman Alexander. "These grants will no doubt be a boon to students across this country, including Louisiana."

Louisiana's poverty rate is second only to Mississippi's. State education officials say the additional resources will provide support to some of the state's high-risk students.

"Too many of our adolescent students are unprepared for the rigors of secondary and postsecondary education, as well as the demands of the workplace," State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said. "This grant will help schools provide new opportunities for children who are behind in their reading skills and who struggle with the challenges associated with living in poverty. Our goal is to utilize these funds to enrich education programs at identified schools so that students who are at risk thrive to become students of great promise."

BESE Board Member Glenny Lee Buquet said this funding will help Louisiana continue its work developing comprehensive literacy programs. "It's an opportunity to reach students who have not before had the benefit of extra help. To receive a grant like this is truly significant for the children of Louisiana."

Approximately 1,200 6th and 7th grade students stand to benefit from the program. Schools selected were identified as having a large population of students reading two or more years below grade level. The schools receiving the grant are in four parishes: Caddo, Calcasieu, Lafayette & Tangipahoa, and include:
Turner Elementary/Middle School; Shreveport, Louisiana
Donnie Bickham Middle School; Shreveport, Louisiana
Ray D. Molo Middle School; Lake Charles, Louisiana
Oak Park Middle School; Lake Charles, Louisiana
Carencro Middle School; Carencro, Louisiana
Judice Middle School; Carencro, Louisiana
Lafayette Middle School; Carencro, Louisiana
N.P. Moss Middle School; Lafayette, Louisiana
Independence Middl e School; Independence, Louisiana
Lucille Nesom Middle School; Tickfaw, Louisiana

While the program will be implemented in the schools in the 2010-2011 school year, LDOE officials will spend the first year planning the program. In addition to providing materials and computers, the funding will support a teacher interventionist at each school. The project also includes a rigorous evaluation conducted by independent researchers.

Other states receiving grants from the U.S. Department of Education include Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.




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