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February 20, 2003

School Districts to Receive Reading First Funds

Springfield – Seventeen Illinois school districts will share in $11 million through the federal No Child Left Behind’s Reading First program. The grant awards are designed to improve reading achievement in grades pre-kindergarten through third by implementing a classroom reading program based on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading strategies.

The final district grant is based on the number of schools participating in the Reading First program, with awards ranging between $50,000 and $175,000 per school. Districts were eligible to apply for the competitive grants based on the number of third-grade students not meeting the Illinois Learning Standards for English Language Arts in reading and the number of low-income students.

Districts receiving funding include:

Berwyn North District 98
Brooklyn District 188
Century District 100
Chicago Heights District 170
Cook County District 130
Danville District 118
Joliet District 86
Kankakee District 111
Ludlow District 142
Meridian District 101
Park Forest District 163
Peoria District 150
Rockford District 205
Rock Island District 41
Springfield District 186
Waukegan District 60
Zion District 6

Additional districts may receive funding.

“These funds come at a most important time for districts facing financial cutbacks and shortfalls,” said State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller. “The grants will allow classroom teachers to apply new strategies in low-income districts where a significant number of students are not meeting the Learning Standards.”

A selection committee reviewed the applications and scored districts on 12 criteria focusing on the district’s assessment process, core program implementation and staff development. Each review team was composed of a university reading expert, a classroom or district reading specialist, reading staff from the Regional Office or Intermediate Service Center and ISBE staff from the divisions of System of Support or Early Childhood.

Last fall, six districts received funding through the Reading First program. They were: Burnham District 154-5, Cahokia CUSD 187, Decatur District 61, Harvey District 152, LaSalle Elementary District 122 and Lindop District 92.

Illinois is one of 25 states to receive federal funds to improve reading achievement through No Child Left Behind’s Reading First program. Reading First is authorized under Title I, Part B, Subpart 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and is designed to ensure that all students read at grade level or above by the end of third grade.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777