The Franklin Special School District received notice that it is one of the 218 public school recipients of the 2019 Read to be Ready Summer Grants. This $36,000 grant will provide 36 struggling young readers with an opportunity to attend a tuition-free, month-long literacy-focused summer camp in the district. This is the second consecutive year the FSSD has received the Read to be Ready grant.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding again and to be able to provide summer literacy opportunities to our students who need some individual attention,” said program supervisor and FSSD Reading Supervisor and Response to Intervention (RtI) Coordinator Gina Looney, Ed.D. “Our reading camp teachers take advantage of every moment to improve reading skills and provide students with positive literacy experiences. We appreciate the state’s support in helping us prevent summer learning loss so these vulnerable readers can begin the year in a positive and confident way.”
Looney said the attendance rate for the camp last year was incredible for a multi-week experience. “Last year our students didn’t want to miss out on the engaging experiences our reading camp teachers had planned. We will be looking to repeat that experience again this summer by planning engaging field trips, fun activities, as well as lots of individual attention.” The district also makes sure the students can get to and from camp by offering free transportation and meals.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen also appreciates the funding to local school districts. “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,” she said. “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.”
For summer 2019, the fourth year of the grant program, the department expanded students’ access to the program by changing the student-to-teacher ratio from 1:5 to 1:6. This allows more students in grades 1-3 to participate without sacrificing the quality and close-knit nature of camps.
Over the past three years, the Tennessee Departments of Education and Human Services, with support from First Lady Crissy Haslam, have partnered to expand the Read to Be Ready Summer Grant program. Students participating in 2018 summer camps saw statistically significant increases in reading comprehension, accuracy, and motivation.
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. Additionally, through the 2018 summer grant program, more than 193,000 high-quality books were sent home with students, and each student, on average, received 25 new books for his or her home library. 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.
The summer camps will use high-interest books, authentic literacy experiences, and engaging field trips to help increase students’ motivation.
Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign launched by Governor 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.