CONYERS, GA – Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) was recently awarded around $5 million over four years in the third round of the Georgia Department of Education’s Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) grant. The goal of L4GA is to improve literacy outcomes for students from birth through grade 12. RCPS was one of 19 districts in the state selected for the most recent round of the L4GA grant, which totals more than $14.7 million state-wide over four years.
Six RCPS schools will participate in programs and resources funded by this third round of the L4GA grant. The grant will be used to provide professional development and literacy support for teachers, books for classrooms and media centers, instructional technology, Response to Intervention (RTI), parent education and workshops, updated curriculum and more.
The schools participating in the third round are Barksdale Elementary, J.H. House Elementary, Lorraine Elementary, Gen. Ray Davis Middle, Edwards Middle, and Heritage High. RCPS was also among the districts selected in the first and second rounds of literacy grants. All RCPS schools are now recipients of L4GA grants.
“We are thrilled to have our remaining schools funded by this round of grants. All of our schools have developed extended learning plans and wrap-around services to support our students after experiencing a disrupted learning environment in this unprecedented global health pandemic. The resources this literacy grant offers and the implementation of high impact literacy strategies will help close the gap for many students and give them the necessary skills to be successful in school,” RCPS Superintendent Terry Oatts said.
Georgia has seen sustained improvement in literacy outcomes since the launch of L4GA, as evidenced by both Georgia Milestones scores and student Lexile scores. Lexile scores for all cohorts of students improved at an average rate of 91 points per year over the last five years, and cohorts of students from 2015 to the present have improved significantly faster than cohorts from 2008 to 2014. By 2019, RCPS third-grade students showed significant gains in English Language Arts and grade-level reading.
“We know that when an entire community invests in students’ literacy achievement, we see sustained and substantial improvement,” said State Superintendent Richard Woods. “L4GA funds empower communities to do just that – to come together to ensure all students have the reading skills they need to fuel future learning. I congratulate our new awardees and look forward to supporting their success.”
Introduced in 2016, L4GA is a unique approach to improving literacy that pairs community-driven action with research-proven instruction. In its first round, 38 school districts – including RCPS – partnered with early learning and care providers as well as community organizations to implement community efforts and improve classroom instruction. In the second round in 2020, 11 RCPS schools and all RCPS Early Learning (Pre-K) were selected to participate in programs and resources funded by the L4GA grant.
L4GA’s first round was funded by a $61.5 million federal Striving Readers grant, while the second and third rounds have been funded by a five-year, $179,174,766 federal grant awarded to Georgia in 2019. Ninety-five percent of that amount is being competitively awarded to local school districts and their community partners. The awards take into account the poverty level of a community, the percentage of students reading below grade level, the recent rate of growth in the number of students reading above grade level, and whether a school is identified for support from the Department of Education’s School Improvement team.