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Louisiana one of six states to win literacy-building grant from feds

The state of Louisiana is slated to receive a $142.4 million grant over a five-year period from the U.S. Department of Education that is aimed to expand child reading and writing proficiency from birth to high school graduation.

The grant application builds on the model the Louisiana Department of Education began through the , which since 2007-2008, has led to increased performance in participating schools on the state’s standardized tests and exceeded the results posted by the state on average.

The Pelican State was one of six states out of 35 that applied to receive money from the federal Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant.

According to the Dept. of Ed. website, the SRCL Grant accepted applications based on a state’s ability to run competitive selections for local education bodies, including qualifying charter schools.

Other requirements included a mechanism to collect and analyze high-quality and timely data, particularly on participant outcomes. Winning states had to also demonstrate strong proposals to train teachers and provide effective instructional materials.

Also from the grant announcement:

To meet this priority, an applicant must (1) propose to use technology—which may include technology to support principles of universal design for learning (as defined in this notice)—to address student learning challenges; and (2) provide, in its application, an evidence-based (as defined in this notice) rationale that its proposed technology program, practice, or strategy will increase student engagement and achievement or increase teacher effectiveness.

States are encouraged to partner with non-profit education groups for assistance.

In a press release, Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler said: “[T]he education community across Louisiana has made literacy a priority, investing substantial dollars to finance literacy initiatives…This grant will allow us to substantially boost the reach of effective state and local literacy efforts. So we welcome the news, and we’re eager to put the funding to work in our districts, schools and classrooms.”

In the first year of the program, 40,000 students are scheduled to participate; the following 60,000 will be included and the number of students will grow by 5,000 over the next three years.

As stipulated by the contract details, 15 percent of the grant must be set aside for children from birth through age 5; 40 percent of the federal funds must go toward supporting students in grades K-5; 20 percent of the federal aid goes to support middle school students; and 20 percent will go to support high school students. The remaining five percent will help towards staffing and other administrative expenses.

Representatives from LDOE are in Washington, D.C., meeting with Dept. of Education officials until Monday to work out further details on how to implement the multi-million dollar award . A copy of the state’s application can be found here.

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