Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that more than 11,000 students in 107 communities across the state will benefit from the 2017 Read to be Ready Summer Grant program, which funds educational camps that target rising first, second, and third graders who are not on grade level in reading during the critical summer months. In total, the department is awarding more than $8.5 million to 212 grant recipients throughout Tennessee.
This spring, the department received applications from nearly three-quarters of school districts across Tennessee for summer grant funding. The Tennessee Departments of Education and Human Services, with support from First Lady Crissy Haslam, have partnered to expand the Read to Be Ready Summer Grant program through an investment of $30 million over the next three years.
“Summer reading loss can have a significant impact on the academic progress made by our students during the school year,” Mrs. Haslam said. “These Read to Be Ready summer programs are an innovative and strategic approach to combating that summer slide and improving reading proficiency across the state.”
Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign and approach to increase third grade reading proficiency in Tennessee to 75 percent by 2025 through a variety of initiatives. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of reading, unite efforts to address low reading achievement, highlight best practices, and build partnerships. The Read to be Ready Summer Grant Program is designed to support students even after the last day of school, and results from the first year indicated for the nearly 600 students who participated, there were increases in their abilities to read fluently and decode words, increased phonemic awareness, and increased confidence and interest in reading.
“To reach our goals as a state, we know that our struggling readers need support beyond strong, daily classroom instruction for 180 days of the year,” McQueen said. “Read to be Ready summer programs help communities ensure our youngest learners are getting the targeted support they need year-round. Above all, we want students to develop the skills and abilities that will grow their motivation and confidence to become life-long readers and thinkers.”
To further support Read to be Ready, starting today McQueen and the First Lady are visiting elementary schools across the state as part of the commissioner’s Classroom Chronicles Tour. During these visits, they are hosting teacher roundtables focused on educators’ perspectives and experiences teaching literacy skills in the early grades. This spring, McQueen has been visiting schools that participate in the Read to be Ready Coaching Network, which supports elementary school teachers and helps them to provide strong instruction, and schools that participated in last summer’s reading grant program.
The full list of 2017 Read to be Ready summer grant recipients and local program directors is attached as well as available on the department’s website. To find out more about the grants, visit the Read to be Ready website. For more information on Read to be Ready and the summer grant program, contact Paige Atchley, Read to be Ready program director, at Paige.Atchley@tn.gov.