KtO grants were awarded competitivelyto districts to serve those children and youth in their community with thegreatest educational need and capacity for literacy improvement. Grant-funded activitiesmust align with the Pennsylvania Comprehensive Literacy Plan and contain the characteristics of an effective literacy program, such as high-quality professionaldevelopment, screening and assessment, targeted interventions for studentsreading below grade level, and otherresearch-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice.
Pennsylvania was one of only six states to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education.Bigger said it was a big accomplishment for the district to receive the grant - also known as the Keystones to Opportunity grant - because it was a very competitive application process .Unlike other grants, it had two application rounds. The first round consisted of more than 300 school districts, which was cut down to 149. Of the 149 districts, 56 were selected to receive grants.
"This was one of the more competitive grants that the district's participated in," Bigger said.Bigger believes that the district's literacy goals were aligned with the grants, which helped it in the application process. The district hopes through the grant and programs that it will support literacy and have achievement in the area.
"It's all designed to support and supplement and enhance what the district is already doing," Bigger said.One of the programs it will help support is the core reading program the district recently adopted. It will also fund professional development and literacy coaches, Bigger said. "Literacy has always been a priority goal in our district," said Dr. Kathleen Kelley, superintendent. "The grant will allow us to purchase a new (kindergarten through fifth grade) core reading program that will expand our efforts to enhance student achievement."
The aspect of the grant that was really appealing to the district is that it was for children from birth to 12th grade. Bigger said "the earlier, the better," when it comes to showing the importance of reading to children. Bigger said they must work with the children's parents since they are the students' "first teacher." "We're excited about having the grant. It will do a lot for our literacy