State appropriates $11.2 million for literacy education for at-risk students

By Chris Nestman

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho KIFI/KIDK – Idaho is doling out $11.2 million to help students in K-3 grades who are struggling with reading. The funds are distributed at a district level.

“Three times a year, our students in K-3 take the Idaho Reading Indicator which is a measure in reading fluency proficiency,” said Rodd Rapp, the curriculum specialist for Bonneville School District #93. “They are given a score of either a one, a two, or a three. A three means proficient, a two means close to grade level, and a one means below grade level.”
The state says that any student that scores a one or a two is considered at-risk. “Reading proficiency at a young age is extremely important┬ábecause research has proven that if a student is not reading at grade level by grade three, he or she will probably not be a proficient reader as an adult,” said Rapp.
Each school district receives funds based on the number of students that qualify as at risk. Out of the $11.2 million, school districts get about $304 per at-risk student. In the eastern Idaho region, that means districts receive anywhere between $474,969 for Pocatello District #25 (one of the largest districts in the state), to $305 for Arbon Elementary District (one of the smallest districts in the state).
School districts have the authority to choose how to use the funds, as long as it’s geared towards helping K-3 students learn to read.
Teachers say the money goes a long way in helping the schools pay for helpful, proven programs. “Oh it helps tremendously,” said Ms. Kim Case, a 2nd-grade teacher at Summit Hills Elementary in Bonneville County. “We are accountable to use research-based strategies, the strategies that we know are tried and true and work well. So the funding that the state provides really helps us in that.”
Case and her fellow teachers use a program that tests students and finds their strengths and weaknesses. Case said it allows teachers and aids to work with students at similar learning levels and helps them create specific targeted lessons.
A full list of all the school districts and how much each is receiving can be found HERE on the Idaho Education News website.