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A 36% of elementary students are reading below grade level, leaders want to change that with $30 million taxpayer money

Atlanta, Georgia – The Georgia Department of Education is making a significant move to tackle reading issues across the state. They’re putting $30 million towards getting literacy coaches for 60 of the state’s elementary schools that have the lowest reading scores.

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More than third of kids in Georgia’s elementary schools are reading below grade level

Currently, about 36% of kids in Georgia’s elementary schools aren’t reading as well as they should be for their age. To improve this situation, the state plans to spend $10 million every year for three years to hire these literacy coaches.

The Georgia Department of Education is putting $30 million towards getting literacy coaches for 60 of the state's elementary schools with worst reading grades

Amy Denty, who oversees literacy efforts at the Georgia Department of Education, emphasizes the importance of improving these reading scores.

“We want our schools to have data-based decision-making,” said Denty.

She believes that a strong coaching program can really help teachers in the classroom. By introducing 60 literacy coaches to schools that really need help, Denty is optimistic this will support teachers facing challenges.

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“We always say that universal screeners wave the red flag, but you have to dig in a little deeper to see what the actual need is for the student,” she explained as reported by FOX Atlanta. “Coaches can help with that process, coaches can help by providing demonstration lessons, walking side by side with the teachers.”

11 Atlanta schools to be involved in the project

Out of the 60 schools getting extra support, 11 are in Atlanta Public Schools, which are among those struggling the most with reading.

Reading levels in Georgia’s elementary schools haven’t bounced back to where they were before the pandemic. However, there was a slight improvement in 2023: reading abilities for third graders went up by 2%, fourth graders by 1%, but fifth graders saw a 1% drop.

Denty hopes these literacy coaches will make it easier for teachers to apply reading science effectively in their teaching.

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“The goal is that we’re able to take that professional learning that is happening that is required by the Georgia Literacy Act,” she said. “And make sure it is implemented in these schools because if we don’t bridge that gap then all that professional learning goes up in smoke.”

This is the full list of schools slated to get literacy coaches.

What are literacy coaches and how they help students and kids

A literacy coach, who is also called a reading coach, knows how to teach young children to read and is up to date on the latest reading studies. Their job is to teach teachers how to help kids read better.

A reading coach does a lot of different things. They help make plans for coaching techniques, evaluate teaching methods and tests, and give teachers of young children reading materials.

Literacy coaches work with teachers to plan lessons and help them with their plans, while literacy specialists teach students directly and help teachers when they need it. They’re all about teamwork in every part of education.

Literacy coaches work closely with teachers and listen to their stories to learn about their needs, skills, and worries. They look at test results, set goals for each student, and think about the specifics of each student’s case to decide what to focus on. They also help teachers make plans for their days so that their goals for teaching are in line with the time they have.

Gideon Blackwell


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