For Immediate Release
September 6, 2002

CHICAGO – Governor George H. Ryan today announced that the federal Department of Education will award the state of Illinois nearly $33 million in grants to help schools and school districts improve children’s reading achievement in the K-3 levels as well as to fund professional development programs for educators.

This grant, awarded by U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, is the first part of a multi-year Reading First grant designed to implement scientifically proven methods of instruction to help improve the reading achievement levels of children. Reading First was passed into law by Congress under the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001.

“We all know that the ability to read proficiently is a basic skill everyone should have. This starts with children at the youngest age,” Governor Ryan said. “Lura Lynn and I have always believed in this idea through the Illinois Reads program and Futures for Kids. This grant will help brighten the futures of Illinois’ most needy children.“

The Illinois State Board of Education has identified 54 school districts based on poverty level and test scores that are eligible to receive portions of the Reading First grant. The geographic spread of eligible school districts ranges from the Chicago Public Schools to the Rock Island School District to school districts on the southern tip of Illinois.

School districts awarded with grants will use the monies to purchase materials and to provide assessments that have been scientifically researched and proven by the National Reading Panel to raise the reading standards of children by teaching them the fundamental skills they need to learn to read proficiently.