Schools receive over $2 million in reading and writing grants

The Minnesota Department of Education recently awarded Faribault Public Schools over $2 million dollars in grants in support of our effort to improve the reading and writing skills of the students in the district.

The Striving Readers Literacy Grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, which granted $20 million to the MDE last fall. The funds will be used to provide coaching support for teachers and educational leaders, strengthen the use of evidence-based literacy practices and engage families and communities, with an emphasis on providing literacy support for disadvantaged children, including children living in poverty, English learners and children with disabilities.

The grant will serve an estimated 30,000 students across 25 districts statewide over the next two years. District 656 was one of just three to receive grants at all three K-12 levels. The elementary schools received $900,000, the high school received $754,524 and the middle school received $505,970. These funds will be used to hire three literacy coaches at the high school, two at the middle school and at least one each at Jefferson Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary and Lincoln Elementary. 

“We’re looking at it as an investment in our students and teachers. This will provide support for the teachers and make sure our kids are getting the best quality instruction,” district English Language Coordinator Sam Ouk said. “To be successful in school, reading skills are so important across all content and subject areas. We want to improve our students’ skills to open up more opportunities for them.”

Ouk has set the goal of improving district reading and writing test scores to meet the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments averages by the conclusion of the grant cycle, the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“It’s a very attainable goal. We recognize our test scores aren’t where they need to be, but this is a way to really help our teachers get the best instruction out to our students and help them succeed,” Ouk said. “The population of Faribault is quite unique. Our diversity brings in a lot of opportunity for our city, but at the same time it forces us to look at things a different way when it comes to how we can help our students reach their full potential.”