Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green announced that Rhode Island has been awarded a $20 million grant to improve literacy.
The five-year Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used primarily to support communities and LEAs in strengthening literacy development and instruction from birth through grade 12.
This award will benefit teaching and learning at every level, including children from birth through grade three, which has been a key focus of the Rhode Island Children’s Cabinet.
"Early literacy is a leading indicator of future success, which is why I reconvened the Children’s Cabinet and established my Third Grade Reading Challenge. When we prioritize reading instruction for our students, we set them up to thrive in school and beyond," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “All students need a strong start, and this grant will help ensure that strong start, while providing continuous literacy supports throughout their educational journey.”
The majority of CLSD funding will be distributed through sub-grant awards to LEAs for the development and implementation of comprehensive literacy instruction, including professional learning opportunities for teachers and principals. LEAS and community-based organizations will also use receive sub-grant awards to engage families and empower them to support literacy at home.
"Statewide, only 36 percent of Rhode Island students are proficient in English language arts. In other words, the majority of students cannot read on grade level. When you look at differently abled students or multilingual learners, the numbers are even lower. We’re talking about single digits in some schools," said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "We can and we must do better, and this grant is going to help us do that for tens of thousands of students.”
The three main goals of the grant are that every funding recipient will be using high-quality curriculum, will use evidence-based strategies to support struggling readers, and every participating family will feel welcomed and able to support their student’s literacy development.
“Reading is the foundation of learning and these federal funds will boost student literacy,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who led the effort to make $190 million available for the LEARN program so literacy grants like this can be awarded to schools and states nationwide.
"Strong early reading skills are the foundation for success in school and beyond," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "This federal award is an investment in helping Rhode Island kids grow up to be lifelong learners."
“I am thrilled that Rhode Island has received an award to help improve reading instruction that takes place in our schools and community organizations,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “This federal funding will help ensure that all Rhode Island children, regardless of their background, are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
“We have an obligation to ensure that the next generation of Rhode Islanders have every opportunity to get ahead,” said Congressman David N. Cicilline, who has consistently advocated for this federal funding throughout his time in Congress. “This valuable federal investment will give thousands of students throughout the state the tools and resources they need to succeed in the classroom and once they graduate.”
Last year, with support from a CCSSO grant, RIDE conducted a statewide curriculum survey and begin working with 13 LEAs to guide and support them in selecting curriculum that is known to be of high quality. RIDE engaged in this work with the help of EdReports, a national non-profit that reviews curriculum. Through this grant funding, the state can expand that work and engage more communities to ensure all students have access to high quality curriculum and materials.
“Over the past two years, RIDE has worked with an increasing number of districts to evaluate and adopt high quality curriculum, and these funds will help us to double down on that critical work,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “With student access to quality materials, teacher support through professional learning, and family empowerment to maximize outcomes, we will help drive improvements for students and schools.”
“I congratulate the team on winning this competitive grant, which will help drive the work forward for our students and families,” said Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “I’m especially pleased that there is a family component to this initiative. Parents are a child’s first teacher, and when we work alongside them, our students are better supported for learning and growth at home and at school.”