State Sen. Katie Muth on Monday joined elected officials, school administrators, teachers and advocates to announce a $3 million grant to create a structured literacy and reading science pilot program that will be available to seven school districts in Chester County.
The grant, funded through Pennsylvania’s allocation of funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will be distributed to the Chester County Intermediate Unit, which will facilitate the program for Senate District 44 school districts in Chester, Montgomery and Berks counties.
“This funding is such an exciting announcement for our schools, our students, and our educators in Senate District 44. We all know that a great teacher can make an impact that can change a child’s life—these Structured Literacy and Science of Reading programs will to build a network of highly qualified educators throughout our region,” Muth said. “I have heard too many heartbreaking stories about our youngest students not believing in their own abilities. We need to help them overcome these challenges and this program – which we hope will be replicated across our Commonwealth – is such an important first step.”
The pilot program will include four areas of concentration, and school districts will be able to choose different programming options that make sense for their curriculum and their needs. There will be funding to implement the science of reading across the system; access to literacy testing tools; programming to support literacy; and teacher professional development and certification.
“We know that ensuring 95 percent of the children we know can learn to read is HARD work and requires systemic, data-driven change that includes all stakeholders: state, regional and district education organizations—legislators, public organizations, universities and families. Changing a program or hiring a person is not enough,” said Kate Meyer, co-founder of Everyone Reads PA. “With a commitment to collaboration and high expectations for our children, we can achieve educational equity in Pennsylvania communities. Senator Muth’s initiative will enable schools in her district to make the necessary shift to ensure that all children in District 44 learn to read and write proficiently.”
School districts eligible to participate in the pilot program include: Coatesville, Downingtown, Great Valley, Octorara, Owen J. Roberts, Phoenixville and Twin Valley in Chester County; Methacton, Norristown, Perkiomen Valley, Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford in Montgomery County; and Boyertown and Daniel Boone in Berks County.
“Our teachers and staff have worked very hard to determine where students need the most reading support,” said Cassandra Jones, Assignments Administrator, Coatesville School District. “Now having consistent, science-based programs that have been proven to work in schools across the country helps provide the structure to drive that continuous improvement.” We are very grateful for the opportunity we will have, thanks to Senator Muth, to continue these efforts.”
Senator Muth was joined at the press conference today by Senate Democratic Appropriations Chairman Vince Hughes (D-Philadelphia); State Rep. Daniell Friel Otten (D-Chester); Dr. Kim Rank, Director of Special Projects, Chester County Intermediate Unit; Paul Friel, president of the Owen J. School Board. Roberts; and Dr. Jackie Galbali, Assistant Professor of Special Education and Director of Structured Literacy Programs, Saint Joseph’s University.