P. O. BOX 2120


November 22, 2000
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Announcement of Two Competitive Grant Opportunities: Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program and Reading Excellence Act

The Department of Education is pleased to announce that two competitive grant opportunities, authorized by the U.S. Department of Education, will be made available to certain schools. They are: 1) Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program (CSRD) and 2) Reading Excellence Act (REA).

Applications and guidelines pertaining to each program will be issued through future superintendentís memoranda. Schools may receive only one of the two grants. Any school eligible to receive both CSRD and the REA funding may apply for both grants, but if successful as finalists for both, only one grant will be awarded based on consultation with the applicant. Descriptions of the two grant programs follow.

CSRD. The purpose of CSRD is to provide financial incentives for schools, especially those with high poverty levels, to implement comprehensive school reform based on reliable research and effective practices. Comprehensive school reform grants are intended to stimulate a coordinated effort by a school to focus on improved student achievement.

Schools eligible for CSRD grants are Title I School Improvement schools (elementary, middle, high) that have received an accredited with warning rating in English, mathematics, or both for 2000-01 and that have not previously received a CSRD grant. There will be 18 grants awarded to this group of schools.

Also eligible in the CSRD grant competition are non-Title I schools (elementary, middle, high) that have received an accredited with warning rating in English, mathematics, or both for 2000-01 and have not previously received a CSRD grant. There will be seven grants awarded to this group.

Successful applicants will receive an award of $50,000, renewable for two additional years, provided federal funds are available. An overview of the CSRD program can be found in Attachment A.

REA. The Reading Excellence Act (REA) is a kindergarten through third grade (K-3) program to address student achievement by providing resources to implement findings from reading research. It offers Virginia an opportunity to expand and improve its efforts to ensure that all children are reading fluently and independently by the end of the third grade. REA funded programs will work in cooperation with other local, state, and federal efforts to provide research-based reading programs for children in schools with high poverty levels and low reading achievement. Projects will include well-integrated components to improve instruction at the elementary and preschool levels, work with families to ensure that children have good support for learning, and provide extended learning opportunities that support classroom instruction in reading.

Through the combined efforts of the Virginia Department of Education and Virginiaís Reading and Literacy Partnership, local reading improvement and tutorial assistance subgrants will be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible school divisions to train teachers in scientifically-based reading research. A total of 128 schools in 49 school divisions are eligible for the Reading Excellence grant. Because this is a K-3 initiative, the schools that are eligible are schools that achieved a passing rate of 40 percent or below in third grade English. To facilitate planning and future development of an application, requirements for the Reading Excellence grant are provided in Attachment B.

Fifty to 60 local reading improvement subgrants could be awarded for amounts ranging from $200,000 to $240,000 over a three-year period. Additionally, as many as 30 to 40 tutorial assistance subgrants may be awarded for approximately $30,000 to $36,000 each over the same period.

Questions regarding CSRD should be directed to George H. Irby, Sr. ( at (804) 225-2869 and those regarding REA should be directed to Linda Poorbaugh ( at (804) 786-3925.