KU researchers to support $27M grant to advance language and literacy skills across state

KU researchers to support $27M grant to advance language and literacy skills across state

Researchers from the KU Center for Research on Learning (KUCRL) have been selected to support a $27 million federal grant to help create comprehensive literacy programs at select schools across the state.

The grant was recently awarded to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) as part of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). According to ED’s website, the overarching purpose of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program is to advance literacy skills for students from birth through grade 12, including pre-literacy skills and reading and writing, with a focus on English learners, students with disabilities, and those living in low income households.

Dr. Michael Hock, KUCRL director and sub-award Principal Investigator, said that the initiative has the potential to impact literacy outcomes for large numbers of Kansas children who are currently not reaching their potential to be college- and career-ready graduates of Kansas schools. Importantly, the project will support local schools and districts to analyze and solve challenges specific to their communities, districts, schools, children, and families.

During the fall of 2017, Kansas local education agencies (LEAs) meeting specific criteria applied for funds from the grant to develop comprehensive birth to grade 12 language and literacy programs that primarily target disadvantaged children. Together with staff from the KSDE, KUCRL researchers Amber Rowland, Suzanne Myers, Jayne James, and Michael Hock helped support these LEAs during the proposal development process.

Eight districts or consortia have been selected from the applications and each funded at a little over $1 million per year for three years beginning in fall 2018. The eight projects will help advance literacy skills of children from birth through 12th grade, helping them to become successful readers and writers. The eight grantees, which represent a total of 32 Kansas school districts and 88,000 children, are:
•    Individual district: Olathe Unified School District (USD) 233
•    Individual district: Manhattan-Ogden USD 383
•    Individual district: Garden City USD 457
•    Individual district: Dodge City USD 443
•    Consortium: Ulysses USD 214; Deerfield USD 216; Ness City USD 303; Montezuma USD 371; Sublette USD 374; Stanton County USD 452; Copeland USD 476; Kismet-Plains USD 483; Syracuse USD 494; and Satanta USD 507.
•    Consortium: Turner USD 202; Pittsburg USD 250; Iola USD 257; Garnett USD 365; Osawatomie USD 367; Santa Fe Trail USD 434; and Labette County USD 506.
•    Consortium: Leavenworth USD 453 and Atchison USD 409.
•    Consortium: Cherokee USD 247; Central Heights USD 288; Woodson USD 366; Riverton USD 404; Hiawatha USD 415; South Brown County USD 430; Cherryvale USD 447; Neodesha USD 461; and Columbus USD 493.

Additional KU staff make up a Strategic Literacy Team (SLT) that will provide technical assistance to districts chosen to participate in the grant. The SLT includes KU Drs. Judith Carta, Dale Walker, James Basham, Sean Smith, Barbara Bradley, Diane Nielsen, and Jim Knight.

KUCRL is organizationally housed within the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies (LSI) at KU. LSI commands the largest external funding support of any research center on the Lawrence campus. LSI investigators are supported by 175 research and administrative staff members.