Christiana Elementary, John Colemon Elementary, Rockvale Elementary and Stewartsboro Elementary have been awarded grants that will allow the schools to offer a tuition-free summer reading program, Rutherford County Schools announced.
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced last week the 218 public school recipients of the 2019 Read to be Ready Summer Grants, which will provide a total of $8,900,000 in funding for the free, month-long literacy-focused summer camps for 8,910 students in need across the state.
What is Read to be Ready?
Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign launched by Gov. Bill Haslam, First Lady Crissy Haslam, and Commissioner Candice McQueen in February 2016 with the goal 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.
Students who attend Read to be Ready summer camps generally are economically disadvantaged and not reading on grade level. Rather than sliding backward, students in Read to be Ready camps have a chance to keep learning and advance their reading skills through a variety of literacy experiences over the critical summer months.
For summer 2019, there will be 218 summer programs in 114 districts across the state, including 56 camps located in economically distressed or at-risk counties.
How will the money be used?
A representative from each school will participate in a Summer Grant Conference in either February or May. The Read to be Ready programs will take place in June.
For summer 2019, the fourth year of the grant program, the Tennessee Department of Education expanded students' access to the program by changing the student-to-teacher ratio from 1:5 to 1:6.
This allows more students to participate without sacrificing the quality and close-knit nature of camps.
"I am proud that once again our state is investing in some of our youngest students who are furthest behind in reading as we work toward the goal that every child is reading on grade-level by the time they leave third grade," Commissioner McQueen said. "This year, we are increasing access to our camps by providing additional capacity to programs so that more students with the highest need can attend. As we have seen over the last three years, these camps play a crucial role in increasing students' reading skills and motivation as they have shown statistically significant results each year."
All Tennessee public schools were eligible to apply for the Read to be Ready Summer Grant program. Prospective applicants were asked to design summer camps that were at least four weeks in length and at least four hours per day—providing students with access to at least 80 hours of literacy-focused instruction and enrichment during the summer. The summer camps will use high-interest books, authentic literacy experiences, and engaging field trips to help increase students' motivation.