Tennessee To Seek Applicants For Literacy Implementation Networks

Photo: Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Announces Covid-19 Emotional Support Line For Tennessee Educators on Jan 15, 2021.

Photo Credit: Tennessee Department of Education

Published February 5, 2021

The Tennessee Department of Education announced on Thursday that district applications for Literacy Implementation Networks will begin to open. These optional networks are for K-12 students and part of the initiative that Tennessee is using to improve literacy in school children across the state.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

This new initiative, Reading 360, will see 48 funding grants available over the next five years, which are designed to bring all Tennessee districts together under eight regional implementation networks. All of the networks would share the common goal of providing the highest quality English Language Arts materials for K-12 students in Tennessee.

Districts are able to apply as a mentor or a participating district before the deadline on March 1. Applying for either role is optional.

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said, “The Pre-K–12 Literacy Implementation Networks will uniquely build the capacity of our school districts to support student readiness in reading by combining funding and peer-to-peer mentorship. The combination provides the conditions for successful student outcomes in school districts across the state during the next five years and sustain this mission-critical work of providing access to high-quality literacy instruction.”

Every regional network will have to pick an elementary, middle, or high school focus when applying. Each of the networks will be comprised of a mentor district, five other participating districts, and a vendor partner.

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All mentor districts will act as support for districts that have recently purchased new ELA materials. Districts will work together to support teachers and make sure they have all the necessary materials and instructions needed to give children a quality learning experience.

Dr. Lisa Coons, Chief Academic Officer for TDOE, said, “We are truly excited to provide 48 grants to support our districts and their work to implement high-quality literacy materials. Districts will have the opportunity to receive five years of grant funding, partner in regional cohorts to build exemplars for literacy instruction, and they will collaborate together to improve daily learning experiences for all children.”

The grants are competitive, but open to any district in Tennessee, and would require a five-year commitment if awarded. There would also be data-sharing requirements for the funds used to launch the regional implementation networks. The state will go through a separate process in order to come up with a list of approved vendors.

Reading 360 is a statewide comprehensive literacy initiative that was first announced at the beginning of 2021. It is designed to help students develop stronger reading skills while supporting the districts and families.

$60 million of the funds are coming from a Covid relief bill, and an additional $40 million will come from federal grant funding.

When the initiative was first announced, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said, “When our students succeed our entire state prospers, and we know that reading on grade level is foundational to the success of every student, both in and out of the classroom. Reading 360 will give critical supports to districts and educators so we can address this challenge urgently and put Tennessee’s students on the right track to grow and thrive.”

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