June 29, 2007

NASBE Awards Literacy Grants to 5 States

NASBE is awarding planning grants to five states for the development of comprehensive state literacy initiatives. The Connecticut, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Utah, and West Virginia State Boards of Education will each receive $15,000 one-year grants to help guide state leadership efforts in inserting literacy strategies into core academic subjects and as part of the states’ overall school improvement activities. The funding comes from NASBE’s Adolescent Literacy Network and supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

“We are pleased to support the leadership of these five state boards of education in making literacy instruction a coordinated set of state policies spanning all programs and academic subjects in school. Their success will help other states develop similar solutions for this deficit in student learning,” said Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director.

The year-long project will require states to commit to establishing ongoing collaborative partnerships and develop and implement a work plan that integrates improvements in literacy performance with school improvement efforts. It requires broad attention to the problems of connecting policy to practice and to the demands for systematic investments in the training and professional development of teachers.

The grants will support the design and implementation of state plans to improve adolescent literacy achievement which adhere to the recommendations put forth in the NASBE 2005 report, Reading at Risk: The State Response to the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy, and the 2007 publication, From State Policy to Classroom Practice: Improving Literacy Instruction for All Students. The recommendations urge states to base their decisions on a clear understanding of what needs to take place at the instructional core—the relationships between teachers and students around the content to be learned.

According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), approximately two-thirds of 8th- and 12th-graders read below the proficient level. For minority students—only 13 percent of African Americans, 16 percent of Latinos, and 17 percent of Native Americans are reading at or above proficient level. Overall, nearly half of African American and Latino 8th-graders read below basic level.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” Advancing Literacy is a relatively new subprogram of the Education Division aimed at advancing literacy by affecting policy, practice, and research.