Applying for a Striving Readers grant? Here's What You Need to Know

Jana Bennett Jana Bennett   |   February 1, 2018

Each year, the U.S. government gives away millions of dollars to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) to assist schools, early education providers, and nonprofits with literacy programs for infants through high school seniors. In 2017, $380 million in awards were given to 16 entities including eleven U.S. states, four U.S. territories, and the Bureau of Indian Education, ranging in value from $302,000 to $61 million. With the amount of money at stake, it is not surprising that the grants are highly competitive, so we have prepared this post to help you create a successful application.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the purpose of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) discretionary grants is “to create a comprehensive literacy program to advance literacy skills — including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing — for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities.”

As you begin to consider what programs you want to submit, remember these important items:

  1. The funds were created to supplement new or existing programs. In other words, you will need other (non-federal) sources of funding for the program that you are proposing.
  2. Programs that serve the greatest numbers or percentages of disadvantaged children, including English learners and students with disabilities, are a priority for the Department of Education.
  3. You must be able to provide “moderate or strong” evidence of the success of your program.


Selection Criteria

Grants are awarded to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) in U.S. States and territories, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These agencies must sub-grant 95 percent of the funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) or nonprofit providers of early childhood education.

Literacy Plans: SEAs must submit a new or revised state comprehensive literacy plan and needs assessment. Grantees must ensure that they will only fund sub-grantees that submit a local literacy plan that tracks outcomes and provide evidence of success.

Continuous Program Improvement: Grantees must use assessment and monitoring data to demonstrate continuous improvement and decision-making. The results must also be shared with educators, families, and other stakeholders.

For more detail on the criteria and priorities for the 2017 process, click here.

Demonstrating Outcomes and Providing Evidence

The U.S. Department of Education emphasized the importance of providing evidence of outcomes and improvement to win a SRCL grant. For first time applicants, this will mean documenting a realistic process for tracking and reporting anonymized data for each element of the program. Without the proper tools in place, this requirement could necessitate hundreds of hours of work, but Pearson has a host of solutions that can automate the process.

Each Pearson solution listed below is hosted online, which simplifies the assessment and intervention processes. Perhaps more importantly for the SRLC grants, the online tools eliminate paperwork with automated scoring and reports. The robust online reporting capabilities provide color-coded charts and graphs that identify strengths and weakness at a glance. Teachers and administrators can easily access and share student, class, school, and district reports in one location.

aimswebPlus for Screening & Progress Monitoring Readers (Grades K-8) & Dyslexia Assessments (K-2)

aimsweb™Plus is an all-in-one formative assessment, reporting, and data management solution for reading and math. The comprehensive content was designed by educational experts and is delivered via an intuitive user interface and online deployment for any web-enabled device.

aimswebPlus also provides evidence-based interventions and accommodations for dyslexia. Students that demonstrate dyslexia indicators in the aimswebPlus assessment can then take the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen™ for a definitive diagnosis. Created by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a global leader in dyslexia, the screener emphasizes phonological, linguistic, and academic performance based on teacher observations.

WriteToLearn for Reading Comprehension & Writing (Grades 4-12)

WriteToLearn™ is a web-based literacy tool that integrates practice and assessment in reading comprehension and writing skills. WriteToLearn evaluates the meaning of text, not just grammar and spelling, in a game-like scoring system with individualized progress monitoring that rewards success.

TELL for English Language Assessments & Progress Monitoring (Grades K-12)

Pearson’s Test of English Language Learning (TELL™) is a tablet-delivered language proficiency assessment for screening, diagnosing, and progress monitoring reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. TELL is the most thorough language assessment available today; it includes three diagnostic and eight progress monitoring assessments that ensure that educators have the rich information they need to plan instruction and guide each English learner to success.

DRA2+ for English and Spanish Oral Reading Fluency & Comprehension (Grades K-8)

The Developmental Reading Assessment Second Edition Plus K – 8 (DRA2+) is a formative reading assessment with progress monitoring tool. Using criterion-related, construct and content validity, it systematically observes, records, and evaluates changes in oral reading fluency and comprehension so students become successful English and Spanish readers more quickly.

High Quality Applications

Let’s wrap up this blog with the key elements of your application. According to the SRCL discretionary grant website, applicants that provide a plan with the following elements are considered “high-quality”:

  • The key goals of the plan
  • The key activities to be undertaken and the rationale for how the activities support the key goals
  • A realistic timeline, including key milestones, for implementing each key activity
  • The party or parties responsible for implementing each activity and other key personnel assigned to each activity
  • A strong theory, including a rationale for the plan and a corresponding logic model as defined in 34 CFR 77.1
  • Performance measures at the state and local levels
  • Appropriate financial resources to support successful implementation of the plan

For more information on these solutions and the Striving Readers Literacy Grant, click here