Hoping to breathe new life into a once-thriving program, Alabama lawmakers added an additional $1 million to the Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) budget during the 2018 Legislative Session in order to recognize Alabama elementary schools showing the most improvement in last year’s 3rd grade reading results.
Divided evenly, each school selected will receive a $20,000 check from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) as a way of recognizing and incentivizing teachers and students who have worked hard to achieve proficiency in reading by the 3rd grade in last year’s statewide Scantron reading assessment.
State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey, said the work educators across the state do every day is invaluable, however this monetary donation is another way of distinguishing the state’s top performers in the important category of 3rd grade reading.
“Reading is the cornerstone to all other learning. When we make sure our students can read and comprehend what they are reading at an early age, we prepare them for a greater possibility of academic success throughout their lives,” Mackey said. “I commend the Alabama legislature for being good stewards of the limited funds we have in public education, and for recognizing the importance of reading for our youngest students.”
The ALSDE will determine which 50 schools will receive the $20,000 award by measuring the percentage of third grade students that met their growth targets as measured by improvement between the initial test taken in the fall of 2017 and the final test taken in the spring of 2018 on the Scantron Performance Series Reading Assessment. All Alabama public schools with a third grade, of which there are approximately 1,071, will be included.
In addition to public recognition by the Alabama State Board of Education, selected schools will be able to determine how to use their *$20,000.
Karen Porter, program coordinator for ARI, said schools all across the state are working hard and showing significant growth in their reading performance. She said while student achievement is the ultimate reward, the ability to recognize the top 50 performing schools is a great additional incentive.
“We are thrilled to see our schools rewarded for their hard work. Every day in Alabama educators are working diligently to provide students with a solid academic foundation,” Porter said. “These awards show that regardless of a student’s zip code, with hard-working educators and students, growth is not only possible, it should be expected.”
The announcement of which schools have been selected will occur on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. Selected schools will be acknowledged during a recognition ceremony in Montgomery on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at the ALSDE.