Lack Of Funding Puts Tennessee Literacy Summer Program At Risk | Nashville Public Radio

Lack Of Funding Puts Tennessee Literacy Summer Program At Risk

Jun 12, 2019

A state program aimed at increasing literacy rates among Tennessee students may not be funded next year.

The goal of Read to be Ready is to increase the share of third-graders who are proficient at reading to 75% by 2025. Less than half of students did when the program started in 2016.

But, after this year, that goal could be harder to attain.

One of the components of Read to be Ready is a summer literacy camp.

Up until last year, the program got its money through a federal grant. But that grant is no longer available, and the state has committed to fund only through this summer.

Joey Hassell, Haywood County Schools superintendent, told WPLN Tuesday he worries about his students. 

“What’s concerning for us at a local level is the opportunity to combat summer slide," Hassell said. "To have our students engage in rich, you know, literacy instruction with activities that have shown to show growth.”

Read to be Ready’s summer program is currently running on emergency funding in 114 school districts. 

In Metro Nashville Public Schools, there are 25 sites serving 756 students.

Another component of Read to be Ready is a literacy coaching network. That portion was funded with state dollars for three years. 

But this year, it failed to secure its full funding. Instead, the coaching network will only have presence in the priority schools. 

In a letter sent to Tennessee superintendents, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said she'll continue to work to secure funding for these initiatives. 

"As superintendents, I encourage you to share your thoughts and data on the (Read to be Ready) camps and coaching networks with your legislators," Schwinn said. "In working closely with the General Assembly, I believe each member is passionate about our literacy efforts and the success of Tennessee's students." 

Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Lee’s office says literacy is one of its priorities but hasn’t committed to funding the program in future years.