TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Toledo Public Schools and Fostoria City Schools both were named beneficiaries of the more than $33 million awarded by the Ohio Department of Education on Wednesday.
Forty-six districts and consortiums received the grants to improve students' language and literacy development.
TPS was given a total of $1,191,530 by the ODE, which breaks down to $108,800 for children up to age 5 and $1,082,730 for grades K-5. Fostoria received about $457,726 for the district. Of that, about $147,996 will go toward children up to age 5, while $160,903 will go toward improvements for middle school students. The grant for high school students totals about $148,827.
"Reading is the foundational skill that ultimately allows us to learn more, and through this application process, we were able to see the great work happening in Ohio's schools," said Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction. "These Striving Readers grants put crucial resources directly into classrooms across the state, and we're excited to work with awardees to improve outcomes for Ohio's most vulnerable children."
Last fall, Ohio was awarded a $35 million Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Approximately 95 percent of the $35 million award is distributed directly to local schools or early childhood providers to improve literacy outcomes for children from birth through grade 12. The three-year grant focuses on serving the greatest numbers of students living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners and students identified as having reading difficulties.
A major focus will be on pr- literacy skills in pre-K to third grade, as ensuring a solid foundation in reading at a young age has been proven to help students as they progress through school.
"We really focused on literacy being, kind of, that key to education, the key to everything later on," said Tera Matz, curriculum director for Fostoria City Schools. "We've referred to it their currency for learning. So, really focusing on that currency, and able to do that as they go up in grades."
Fostoria Schools intends on having those language and literacy programs installed by next school year.
The department awarded grants following a competitive peer review process. The department received 110 individual and consortium applications, representing 208 entities requesting more than $92 million. The federal grant requirements included a prescribed distribution of funding across defined age and grade bands from birth through high school (15 percent to birth to age 5 programs, 40 percent to K through grade 5 programs and 40 percent equitably distributed across middle and high school programs). In addition to the federal requirements, the department committed to awarding grants across all 16 state support team regions with priority given to high-quality applications serving the highest numbers of disadvantaged students.
The grant builds on Ohio's commitment to ensuring all students have the reading skills needed to succeed in education and life. The department recently worked with Ohio educators and educational leaders to develop Ohio's Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, as well as to update and refine Ohio's English language arts learning standards. In addition, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee aims to ensure all students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Through this initiative, schools diagnose reading issues, create individualized Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plans, and provide intensive reading interventions.