Bismarck Public Schools applying for new reading grant

Published: Dec. 12, 2019 at 5:40 PM CST
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In August of 2018, Bismarck Public Schools were awarded a three year, $5.7 million grant to tailor literacy education around the needs of students.

BPS is looking to the future as it plans to apply for a second, lengthier grant.

The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant has allowed teachers to develop better practices for struggling students. Promising results led the district to a new, five-year grant to help build on what it started.

Teachers spend their time at Jeannette Myhre Elementary School teaching kids to read.

"We want them to be able to be college ready but also career ready. So, we talk a lot about what does it look like to read as a scientist or write as a scientist beyond just being able to analyze the traditional text that we usually think about in terms of literacy in our English courses," said Tara Olson, district curriculum developer.

The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant allows teachers to go to conferences and learn new teaching methods.

The money from the grant helped develop programs for readers of all ages, from babies to 12th graders.

"The grant really helped us set a faster pace. We were able to bring in consultants that work directly with this literacy, with disciplinary literacy specifically. So, really opening teachers minds to what that looks like,” Olson said.

The district is currently halfway through the three-year grant and is now seeking to establish a Comprehensive Literacy Implementation Plan through a new five-year grant. The goal is to solidify the practices being put in place and create sustainability over the next five years.

"One of the teachers commented for the first time she had a student come in and ask her for a book. And in the past if any word about book or reading, eyes down, head down," Olson said.

Like before, the new grant will target underprivileged students.

All schools have an opportunity to get funding, but schools with higher percentages of disadvantaged students will have priority.

The Bismarck School District can apply for the new grant in the fall of 2020.

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