COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 129
August 1, 1997

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM:
 
Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Early Intervention Reading Initiative -- Application Process

 
  Attached please find the necessary information to apply for
  incentive funds under the Early Intervention Reading
  Initiative previously referenced in Superintendent's Memos No.
  199, (December 20,1996, Informational {Governor's proposed
  amendments}), No. 72 (April 25, 1997, Informational) and No.
  1 (February 24, 1997, Regulatory) which outlines the funding
  allocation. The following is attached:  (1) a two-part
  application form (Forms A & B) which should be returned to the
  Department by August 20, 1997, (2) details regarding the
  contents of the assessment package, (3) an application for
  seeking approval of a local alternative to the state
  assessment tool (Form C), and (4) ideas as to how localities
  might utilize the Initiative funds to provide reading
  intervention services. 

  If you plan to participate, it is absolutely critical that the
  application form be completed and returned to the Department,
  as noted in the application, by Monday, August 20, 1997 to
  ensure assessment materials are shipped to your division by
  October 1, 1997. This information will be compiled into an
  electronic database which will then be mailed to the printers
  who will direct ship the assessment tools to you.  Shipments
  will be delayed for those applications received after August
  20, 1997.

  Since this Initiative has been developed, there are a number
  of issues that have been clarified or need re-emphasis as you
  consider participating in the Initiative.

            The assessment package has been developed by
            researchers at the University of Virginia, Curry
            School of Education and is designed to provide a
            "curriculum-embedded" assessment procedure that will
            help teachers identify children's level of
            phonological awareness and early literacy skills.
            This field test version is best described as a
            screening tool to determine the need for additional
            instruction rather than a summative test of reading
            skills.

            The funding formula for the Reading Initiative
            calculates the number of students in  1st grade x
            the percent on free lunch x the average hourly
            teacher salary x 2.5 hours/week of instruction x 36
            weeks/year to determine the local allocation.  This
            allocation is then multiplied by the local
            composite index to determine the State share and
            local match requirements.

            Although the allocated funds were calculated on the
            basis of the free lunch count, the expectation is
            that ALL children identified by the diagnostic
            screening would receive additional instruction.
            (That is, time additional to the regular reading
            time, which may be in or outside of the regular
            school day). Please understand that this
            expectation also assumes that the allocation
            calculation, which mentions 5, 30 minutes per day,
            per week sessions, need not be rigidly followed. In
            fact, research indicates that 15 min/day is usually
            sufficient and can be effective in groups of 1 to
            5.  Initiative funds may be used for staff
            providing direct services to identified students
            (aides, teachers); teachers supervising direct
            service providers (aides, volunteers) or
            interactive computer hardware/software directly
            providing phonological awareness instruction. 
            Funds may not be used to purchase materials (print
            or manipulatives), staff development, consultants
            or assessment materials.

            The Initiative may be implemented at the
            kindergarten or 1st grade level. In the Governors'
            proposal, noted in early memoranda, the Initiative
            was referred to as the "1st grade Initiative" but
            the General Assembly created the option to include
            kindergarten. Many divisions plan to implement at
            the kindergarten level recognizing that
            phonological awareness is a pre-reading attribute
            that is best acquired before formal reading
            instruction in first grade.

            Sufficient copies of the state assessment tool will
            be mailed to the central office person designated
            on the attached application form. The assessment
            packages will be wrapped for each participating
            teacher and boxed by school. The packages will not
            be available until October 1 for a recommended
            administration in November. The rationale for this
            recommendation, involving potential over-identification,
            has been shared with the division representatives
            attending the implementation workshops held in mid May.

            Fifty percent (50%) of the Reading Initiative funds
            will be disbursed in September, upon receipt and
            approval of the Superintendent's Certification
            (Form B) and shipping information (Form A).  The
            remaining 50% will be released in December
            following a reporting of  the  number of children
            identified and served.


  Questions regarding options for local matching funds should be
  addressed to June Eanes, Budget Director, at (804) 225-2060.
  Questions regarding programmatic issues should be addressed to
  Jim Heywood, Director of Elementary and Middle School
  Instructional Services at (804) 225-2865.


  RTL/pl

  Attachments:  A hard copy of this memo and its attachments
                will be sent to the superintendent's office.

  c: Key Instructional Leaders