School District Seeks Grant Funding for Read by Grade Three Initiative

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A $4.8 million grant application for intensive literacy instruction at elementary schools was approved Tuesday by Washoe County School District trustees.

The program grant for Nevada K.I.D.S. Read, also known as Read by Grade Three, funds additional help for reading-deficient students in kindergarten through third grades.

Students face retention if they cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade. This state mandate was approved during the 2015 legislative session and takes effect at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Exceptions are made for English language learners, special education students, and those who’ve missed extended periods of school due to illness, deputy superintendent Kristen McNeill said.

The district is working to reach children as early as possible, she said.

“We have to identify those in kindergarten and they have their progress measured all year long,” McNeill said. “Parents are very much a part of that.”

The grant application for the 2017-18 school year includes all district elementary schools and five charter elementary schools. It focuses on the five keys of Nevada’s State Literacy Plan: leadership and sustainability, data-driven standards-based instruction and intervention, literacy assessment systems, professional learning, and family and community engagement.

Instead of waiting until summer school to address academic problems, the district is starting after-school tutoring for struggling students. Between 300 and 400 struggling students at a total of 20 schools will work in groups of three or four for 18 weeks at a time.

“Our plan is to be proactive and not reactive,” said Lauren Ohlin, director of grants.

The district’s communications department has spent time putting details into laymen terms so families understand the importance of reading on grade level.

Mandi Van Dellen, a district implementation coordinator, said social media and data nights at schools, along with printed flyers and radio advertising in English and Spanish are being used to reach families.

“We’re getting there and the resources are helping,” Van Dellen said.

On The Web:

Read by Grade Three

Senate Bill 391

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Carla O'Day
About Carla O'Day 280 Articles

Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.