Southside Primary first to receive reading grant

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 9, 2003

Reading has always been an important focus at any school, but it can be a challenge when teachers are faced with a lack of funds and poor learning tools.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Alabama Board of Education decided to take action and help the state’s underprivileged students.

The Alabama Reading First Initiative sub grants recently awarded $5 million to 17 school systems across the state.

In Dallas County, Southside Primary became the first school in the district to receive the much-needed funds. The school was awarded $249,148.06 to implement a reading education program.

All the schools that received funding must follow Alabama Reading First Initiative guidelines. The schools must employ a reading coach, use a research-based reading program, implement specific evaluation assessments, and spend $1,000 on professional development for every teacher in the school.

Southside Primary is also required to incorporate five components of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.

There are currently six reading coaches in the Dallas County School System. Their primary focus is to work with teachers in establishing techniques for helping students learn to read.

Schools which met the Reading First criteria had a large number of students scoring below the grade level on reading and high percentages of families below the poverty level.

The money from the grant is distributed through the Alabama Department of Education, which will receive $102 million over six years.