HARRISBURG − October 24, 2022 − State Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) today joined elected officials, school administrators, teachers, and advocates to announce a $3 million grant to create a structured literacy and Science of Reading pilot program that will be available to ten school districts in Senate District 44.
The grant, funded through Pennsylvania’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, will be distributed to the Chester County Intermediate Unit which will facilitate the program for the school districts in Senate District 44 across Chester, Montgomery, and Berks Counties.
“This funding is such an exciting announcement for our schools, our students, and our educators across Senate District 44. We all know that a great teacher can make an impact that could change a child’s life – these structured literacy and Science of Reading programs will build a network of highly-skilled educators throughout our region,” Muth said. “I have heard far too many heartbreaking stories about our youngest students not believing in their own abilities. We need to help them overcome these challenges and this program – which we hope is replicated across our Commonwealth – is such an important first step.”
The pilot program will include four areas of concentration and school districts will be able to select different programming options that make sense for their curriculum and for their needs. There will be funding for systemwide Science of Reading implementation; access to literacy screening tools; literacy support programming; and professional development and teacher certification.
“We know that ensuring the 95% of kids we know can learn to read is HARD work and requires a systemic, data-driven shift that includes all stakeholders: state, regional and district educational organizations – lawmakers, community organizations, universities, and families. Changing a program or hiring a person is not enough,” Kate Mayer, co-founder of Everyone Reads PA, said. “With a commitment to collaboration and high expectations for our kids we can achieve instructional equity across communities in Pennsylvania. Senator Muth’s initiative will make it possible for schools in her district to make the shift necessary to ensure all kids in District 44 learn to read and write proficiently.”
The school districts eligible to participate in the pilot program include: Coatesville, Downingtown, Great Valley, Octorara, Owen J. Roberts, Phoenixville and Twin Valley in Chester County; Methacton, Norristown, Perkiomen Valley, Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford in Montgomery County; and Boyertown and Daniel Boone in Berks County.
“Our teachers and staff have been working very hard to determine where students need the most support with reading,” Casandra Jones, Administrator on Assignment, Coatesville Area School District said. “Now, having consistent, science-based programs that have been proven to be effective in schools nationwide is helping to provide the structure to drive this continual improvement. We are very grateful for the opportunity we will receive, thanks to Senator Muth, to continue these efforts.”
Senator Muth and Senator Hughes were joined at the press conference by state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D-Chester); Dr. Kim Rank, Director of Special Projects, Chester County Intermediate Unit; Paul Friel, President of the Owen J. Roberts School Board; and Dr. Jackie Galbally, Assistant Professor of Special Education and Director of Structured Literacy Programs, St. Joseph’s University.