Saturday, January 18, 2003

Schools eligible to get $1.3M

Federal money is earmarked to promote reading

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Gov. Bob Taft on Friday announced that the Cincinnati school district is eligible to receive at least $1.3 million in federal money beginning next school year to help improve kids' reading abilities.

The money is part of a $176 million Reading First grant to support teachers and students in low-performing, high-poverty schools for the next six years. Twenty-six school districts are eligible for the grant, but they must compete for the money by submitting a three-year plan outlining how they'll use it.

Districts must show how:

Teachers will identify and monitor students' reading progress.

Schools will align reading instruction with the state's new academic standards.

Schools and districts will use scientifically based reading research when choosing materials and programs.

Cincinnati schools are already planning how the district will use the money, and school officials say the grant will come in handy.

While the district improved the percentage of students passing the fourth-grade reading test by more than 12 percentage points from 2000-01 to 2001-02, Cincinnati schools still had just 39 percent passing last school year.

The grant would be used to shore up reading efforts the district has launched in kindergarten through third grade, such as lowered class sizes and summer school for students who need extra help. The district also recently sent parents booklets that outline the state's standards and what each child is expected to know and learn.

"We've already had a fairly comprehensive early literacy approach so this will help us with training and tools for teachers," said Jan Leslie, spokeswoman for Cincinnati schools. "We're excited."

Adams County/Ohio Valley Local also is eligible for the grant, which could amount to at least $124,588 for the district next year.


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