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Reading to Succeed Grant Proposal

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					                               Proposal to Fund the
                Continued Reading Improvement Block Grant Program
                            Illinois Association of School Administrators
                                           November 2006


The Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) respectfully requests that the Illinois State
Board of Education (ISBE), with approval from the General Assembly and Governor, allocate a minimum
of $3,000,000 to the Continued Reading Improvement Block Grant Program. Funding for this program,
as authorized under ILCS 5/2-3.51a, would enable school districts to support students in grades 7 through
12 who are reading significantly below grade level.

The rationale for our request is compelling. Although a large body of research documents deficiencies in
adolescent literacy, we are more concerned about the facts and figures we see on the state report cards:

    •   In 2005, a full 40% of eleventh grade students did not meet state reading standards in
        eleventh grade. That means that this year approximately two out of every five high school
        students who graduated in 2006 did not have the reading skills to meet state standards. If they
        cannot meet state reading standards, how can we expect them to succeed in the workplace, in
        community college or at the university level?

    •   In 2005, 65% of African American students did not meet state reading standards in
        eleventh grade. Two-thirds of African American students who graduated in 2006 did not have
        the reading skills to meet state reading standards.

    •   In 2005, 60% of Hispanic students did not meet state reading standards in eleventh grade.
        Three of every five Hispanic students who graduated in 2006 did not have the reading skills to
        meet state reading standards.

    •   An enormous gap in reading achievement exists between White and minority students and
        between poor students and their peers and as a result we are graduating high school
        students who are stratified by race and income:

            o   In 2005, 63% of low-income students did not meet state standards in eleventh grade, but
                67% of non-poor students did meet or exceed state standards.
            o   In 2005, approximately fewer than 40% of minority students met state reading standards,
                while more than 67% of White students met or exceeded state reading standards.

    The gaps between racial groups and between the poor and non-poor high school students are
    not closing:

    •   In 2002, approximately 66% of White students met or exceeded state reading standards
        while only 32% of African American students met or exceeded state standards. In 2005, this
        34 point gap has only shrunk by one point!

    •   Likewise, the 31 point gap between poor and non-poor students in 2002 has only decreased by
        one point in 2005.

    •   Of the 138 high schools that have 50% or more of their students from low-income families, a
        mere 29 have even half of their students meeting or exceeding state reading standards. In other
        words, almost 80% of all high schools that serve a majority of poor kids do not have even
        half their students meeting state reading standards.
Talking Points
November 2006
Page 2


IASA is seeking $3,000,000 for the Continued Reading Improvement Block Grant, because we
know that funding for the Reading Improvement Block Grant for kindergarten through sixth grade
has worked. There is ample evidence that this grant has had a positive, measurable impact on
improving student achievement. Here are some results:

    •   In Illinois, there are more than 900 “low-income” elementary schools. These are schools in
        which more than half of the students are from low-income families. In 2001, only 32% or less
        than 1/3 of these low-income schools had even half of their students meeting third grade state
        reading standards. In 2005, 54% of these schools now have half of their students meeting state
        reading standards. In other words, in four years the percentage of low-income elementary
        schools that have at least half of the students meeting third grade reading standards has
        risen by 67%!

    •   Minority students have made significant gains. In 2002, 52% of third grade Hispanic students
        did not meet reading standards; in 2005, 56% of Hispanic students do meet or exceed state
        standards. Likewise, the percentage of third grade African American students meeting or
        exceeding state standards has grown from 34% in 2002 to 41% in 2005, which represents a gain
        of 20%.

    •   Low-income students have also made significant progress. In 2002, 60% of third graders did
        not meet state reading standards. In 2005, that percentage dropped to 52%.

    •   The Reading Block Grant is helping to close the achievement gap. The 42 point gap between
        White and African American students in 2002 decreased to a 37 point gap in 2005. The gap
        between White and Hispanic students in 2002 was 28 percentage points, and in 2005 it was cut to
        22 percentage points.

The Reading Improvement Block Grant is making a difference for several reasons, including:

    •   It contains assurances that funding goes directly to support the best proven practices: reading
        instruction and reading professional development;
    •   It requires rigid accountability measures including pre-testing and post-testing;
    •   It distributes money fairly - 70% on ADA and 30% on low-income enrollment;
    •   It allows districts to hire trained reading specialists.

Based on the success of the Reading Improvement Block Grant and assurances in the School Code
(105 ILCS 5/2-3.51a), IASA is confident that funding for the Continued Reading Improvement
Block Grant will have a positive impact on students in seventh through twelfth grade who are
struggling to read. IASA fully realizes that ISBE understands the importance of assuring that all
students graduate from Illinois high schools as capable readers. In fact, the first goal of your own
strategic plan is “Enhancing Literacy.” We beseech you, then, to fund your own top strategic priority by
putting a minimum of $3,000,000 into the Continued Reading Improvement Block Grant for FY 08 and
then tirelessly advocating for legislative approval and the Governor’s signature.

In closing, it is an outrage that in the Land of Lincoln we allow such a gap between the reading
achievement of minority and White high school students to go unattended. It is an embarrassment that in
this great state we have ignored the fact that 80% of high schools serving a majority of low-income
students do not have half their boys and girls meeting state reading standards. The IASA advocates on
behalf of these thousands of teenagers who are struggling to read; on behalf of these boys and girls, who
are soon to be our workforce, parents of a new generation and our leaders of tomorrow; on behalf of the
Talking Points
November 2006
Page 3

middle schools and high schools faced with the challenge of closing the achievement gap and challenges
ISBE, the General Assembly and Governor Blagojevich to fund the Continued Reading Improvement
Block Grant. We have ignored the problem too long. It is now time to support our middle school and
high school students who are not acquiring the reading skills they desperately need to succeed after they
graduate. It is now time to put $3,000,000 into the Continued Reading Improvement Block Grant
Program so we can begin to provide the reading instruction and trained personnel our teenage children -
who are soon to be our workforce, parents of a new generation and our leaders of tomorrow - so richly
need and deserve.

Thank you for your consideration.

				
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