Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students will see an increased focus on literacy in the next couple of years thanks to a more than $2.7 million federal grant, one of the highest of its kind awarded in Maryland.
The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant aims to improve literacy — especially among students who are economically disadvantaged, have disabilities or are English language learners.
While the program will benefit students of all abilities, the grant will fund efforts to boost Partnership for Research and Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) test scores among groups of students whose have lagged behind their peers. Progress will be determined by an increase of 5 percent in the number of students scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on PARCC English/language arts assessments by September 2020, including improvements among the subgroups. Grant funds will strengthen relationships with community partners to increase awareness of programs available to supplement lessons students are learning in the classroom.
The program hopes to improve literacy for disadvantaged students by aligning instruction and intervention from birth through the 12th grade. Students will be more effectively screened for reading problems, student progress will be monitored, and intensive interventions will be put in place.
Among CCPS’s Striving Readers partners are the Lifelong Learning Center, Head Start and the Charles County Public Library. At the Lifelong Learning Center, literacy playgroups with a parent-education component will be offered to the children of parents enrolled in the center’s GED-prep courses. CCPS will provide mentoring, coaching, professional development and curricular support to Head Start which will result in the increased number of students entering kindergarten fully ready to learn with the help of parents, child care providers and Head Start.
The public library will hold parent-child literacy sessions with English learners.
CCPS will review the various programs quarterly to determine the progress and adjust if need be, said John Tompkins, content specialist for English and language arts with CCPS.
Along with instructional materials and programs, teachers will receive professional development to increase their skills in teaching the curriculum. A group of content specialists for students from birth to 12th grade is developing the plan that will reach into 2020.
As part of professional development, the authors of the curriculum being used in schools will speak with teachers. “They are on the forefront,” Tompkins said of the authors. “We’re going to get a whole lot better at what we’re doing. We’re going to hone in and get better at it.”
That means strengthening partnerships with the library and others that have resources to bolster literacy among current and future students. The grant will fund a community liaison to connect with families and groups to funnel them to available resources.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.