Karen Johnson, assistant secretary of Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education, made the announcement this morning, along with Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Stewart joined her.
“Show me a child who didn’t learn to read, and I’ll show you an adult who has suffered the consequences,” Johnson said. “Reading is fundamental to everything we do. It’s the building blocks to a quality education and a wholesome life.”
Beverly Kingery, English/Language Arts Coordinator with the WVDE, spearheaded the grant application process for West Virginia. The state’s application passed a rigorous review panel that judged the plan against 25 main review criteria. The grant will support key improvements in classroom reading instruction, including teaching based on what research shows works, early identification and help for reading difficulties, monitoring student progress and continuous, high-quality professional development for teachers. States will create a statewide infrastructure to steer reform and help school districts that will receive funding under a state-run competition for district subgrants.
“When the West Virginia Board of Education passed its seven refined goals in 2000, it made teaching all children to read as its number two goal,” said Stewart. “Since then, we have emphasized reading at all levels, but this will help us enhance and utilize the latest in reading education.”
West Virginia plans to hold a competition for eligible school districts to compete for subgrants this summer, with the state planning to support some 40 schools in those districts. As part of its professional development plan, the state will hold weeklong sessions that will provide intensive training in scientifically based reading instruction for all K-3 teachers and K-12 special educators. These professional development sessions will provide intensive training on classroom reading instruction based on scientific research, so that teachers learn to tailor instruction around sound, research-based information.
“Reading is fundamental for every stand of education,” Stewart noted. “The earlier we teach children to read, the better their performance will be throughout their education.”
Reading First was passed into law by a bipartisan majority of Congress under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and centers on the following priorities: ·raising the caliber and quality of classroom instruction; ·basing instruction on scientifically proven methods; ·providing professional training for educators in reading instruction; and ·supplying substantial resources to support the unprecedented initiative.
State applications undergo a rigorous review by a panel of reading experts, selected by the Secretary of Education, the National Institute for Literacy, the National Research Council and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Successful states will receive funds under a formula.
A list of estimated state grants for FY 2002, FY 2003 and under President Bush’s budget request for FY2004 is available at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OUS/Budget04/04StateTables/04stbypr.pdf.
For more information about the Reading First program in West Virginia, contact Beverly Kingery at (304) 558-7805.