Paige Announces $2.7 Million in Reading First Grants for Hawaii Children

Paige Announces $2.7 Million in Reading First Grants for Hawaii Children

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today announced that Hawaii will receive more than $2.7 million for year one of a multi-year Reading First grant to help schools and districts improve children’s reading achievement using scientifically proven methods of instruction.

The state’s application passed a rigorous review panel that judged the plan against 25 main review criteria.  Over six years, Hawaii will receive approximately $17.7 million in support, subject to the state’s successful implementation and congressional appropriations.  Hawaii is the seventeenth state to be funded under the new program.

The grant announced today supports critical improvements in classroom reading instruction based on proven methods of instruction, screening and diagnosis of reading difficulties, monitoring of student progress, and thorough and high-quality professional development for teachers.  States will build a statewide infrastructure to guide reform and assist school districts that will be funded under a state-run competition for district subgrants.

“Reading First is helping transform reading instruction from the fads of the past into the most focused, early reading initiative ever undertaken in this nation,” Paige said.  “The program’s focus on scientific evidence, including the five essential elements of proven reading instruction, constitutes a formula for success.  These funds will help ensure that all Hawaii children have the teaching and tools they need to read well by the end of the third grade.”

This December, Hawaii plans to hold a competition for eligible schools to compete for the subgrants, and the state plans to support some 25 schools.  Appropriate Hawaii educators will attend eight-day Institutes for Beginning Reading, intensive professional development on scientifically based reading instruction.  In addition, each participating school will have a designated reading coordinator or coach to support program implementation. 

When President Bush took office, he made improving children’s reading achievement a centerpiece of his education reform agenda.  Research shows that reading failure exacts a heavy toll on student motivation and school performance, and improved early reading instruction can be the first step toward raising academic achievement. 

The president designed Reading First around an extensive knowledge base of the skills children need to learn to read.  The program reflects the recommendations of a congressionally mandated, exhaustive review of scientifically based research on how students learn to read, completed by the National Reading Panel in 2000. 

Reading First was passed into law by a bipartisan majority of Congress under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and centers on the following priorities:

raising the caliber and quality of classroom instruction; basing instruction on scientifically proven methods; providing professional training for educators in reading instruction; and supplying substantial resources to support the unprecedented initiative.

To help them develop quality programs and solid Reading First applications, states had the benefit this spring of nearly three days of assistance during the Secretary’s Reading Leadership Academies, to which all states sent representatives.

State applications undergo a rigorous review by a panel of reading experts, selected by the secretary of education, the National Institute for Literacy, the National Research Council, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 

Paige has announced awards to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington. 

States that are successful will receive funds under a formula.  A list of estimated state grants and next year’s funding under President Bush’s request for $1 billion for the second year of the program is available at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2002/01/estimates.html.

NOTE TO EDITORS:  For more information about Hawaii Reading First plan, contact Judy McCoy, 808-733-9134.