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KU researchers to support $27 million grant to advance language and literacy skills across state

Monday, October 30, 2017 - 19:00

Researchers from the KU Center for Research on Learning (KUCRL) will support a $27 million federal grant to help create comprehensive literacy programs at select schools across the state.

The grant was awarded recently to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) as part of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The initiative will offer districts/consortia meeting specific criteria an opportunity to apply for funds from the grant to develop comprehensive birth to grade 12 language and literacy programs that primarily target disadvantaged children.

Local Education Agencies (LEAs) will be able to apply for funding by mid-October. Together with staff from the KSDE, KUCRL researchers Amber Rowland, Irma Brasseur-Hock, Jayne James, and Michael Hock will support LEAs during the proposal development process. Additional KU staff will help make up a Strategic Literacy Team (SLT) that will provide technical assistance to districts chosen to participate in the grant. The SLT includes KU Drs. Judith Carta, Dale Walker, James Basham, Sean Smith, Barbara Bradley, Diane Nielsen, and Jim Knight.

Dr. Michael Hock, KUCRL director and sub-award Principal Investigator, said that the initiative has the potential to impact literacy outcomes for large numbers of Kansas children who are currently not reaching their potential to be college and career ready graduates of Kansas schools. Importantly, the project will support local schools and districts to analyze and solve challenges specific to their communities, districts, schools, children, and families.

Eight districts or consortia will be selected from the applications and funded at a little over $1 million per year for three years. The LEAs will be notified in the spring of 2018 and the comprehensive literacy programs will be implemented during the fall of 2018 school year.

Dr. Suzy Myers, an education program consultant for KSDE, is the overall project director for the initiative. According to Dr. Myers, the award means that schools can be better equipped to build a birth-to-grade-12 plan to address the literacy needs of students and families.  Myers stated, “The award makes it possible for literacy to be very intentional and aligned with the Kansas State Board of Education’s goals for students to leave the PreK-12 system with the academic, cognitive, technical and employability skills necessary to be productive and engaged members of their communities.”

The overarching purpose of the U.S. Department of Education’s Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program will be to advance literacy skills for students from birth through grade 12, including pre-literacy skills and reading and writing, with a focus on English learners, students with disabilities, and those living in low income households according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

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