Aug 14, 2018

Award Includes Funding for Districts to Pilot New Age-Appropriate Measures in Grades K-2

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Wednesday will vote to award more than $10 million in competitive grant funding to 67 school systems across the state to improve the reading and writing skills of struggling students.

The subgrants draw from a three-year, $55.5 million Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) grant Louisiana received from the federal government last year. The SRCL grant aims to advance the pre-literacy, reading and writing skills of disadvantaged youth, birth through grade 12, including English learners and students with disabilities. Louisiana was one of 11 states selected to benefit from the federal grant and is the only state to receive the award three consecutive times.

"Research shows the early grades are vital for later school success. The key skills students develop one year must be built upon and reinforced the next," said State Superintendent John White. "As we enter into the second year of this grant, we must focus our attention on ensuring our children have access to a high-quality continuum of learning that could make a difference in positive, long term achievement outcomes."

Among the initiatives to be supported by this funding, 53 of the 67 school systems will be piloting new tools to measure classroom experiences and learning for students in Kindergarten through grade 2. Those school systems will:
  • Extend CLASS, a nationally regarded system of measures used in Louisiana's early childhood accountability system to evaluate teacher-student interactions, into Kindergarten classrooms;
  • Collaborate with experts to review students' writing samples to gauge their knowledge of language and conventions in grade 1;
  • Adopt classroom observation tools to measure teachers' use of standards-aligned materials that impact student learning experiences in grades 1 and 2; and
  • Implement a new skills check-up at the end of grade 2 to provide insight on students' mastery of literacy and numeracy.
Tangipahoa Parish School System plans to pilot all four of the new tools, said Linda Baker, who serves as the literacy coordinator there. "We expect this work to have a significant impact on building knowledge of students for teachers as well as improving teacher and student interaction. We are looking forward to collaborating with other parishes and the Department of Education experts to fine tune teaching and learning for our youngest learners."

The Louisiana Department of Education plans to award another round of subgrants later in the 2018-2019 school year. Those subgrants will support initiatives specific to serving children birth through age five, as well as students in grades 6-12. The Department will also continue to host competitive application processes each year for the remainder of the grant period.

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