Rachel Patterson receives $266K

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, August 1, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Rachel Patterson Elementary School has been awarded $266,339 in Alabama Reading First Initiative (ARFI) grant money to help fund reading coaches and resources for reading for the 2007-08 school year.
According to RPES principal Susan McKenzie, an ARFI school is in affiliation with the No Child Left Behind Act.
"It's a part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 1991 where every state had to come up with their own reading initiative," McKenzie said. "The Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) was established. ARI schools usually get about $60,000 in funding, but most of that goes to the reading coach's salary. An ARFI school gets anywhere from $60,000 to $300,000. We get more money, but have to meet certain criteria."
Only 10 percent of Alabama's K-3 schools are Reading First Schools. RPES is one of 93 schools in the state of Alabama to receive the ARFI funding. ARFI funds help students in Alabama who are at-risk that face the greatest challenges.
"For every four students at an ARFI school who begins kindergarten below benchmark, fewer than one remains behind at the end of the year," according to an ARI 2005 evaluation. "This despite the fact that 81 percent of ARFI kindergarten students are minorities-compared to only 38 percent of kindergarten students statewide. Gains in Reading First schools are occurring at a more rapid rate than in the state as a whole where the percent of students in grade 3 scoring at grade level increased 9 percent as opposed to 4 percent in all Alabama schools."
This is the third year that Rachel Patterson received the federal grant money designated for the reading program.
The elementary school has two reading coaches whereas most ARI schools have only one. The money will be used for salaries and used to fund extensive training for reading strategies and techniques and also materials.
McKenzie is thrilled that RPES received the funding. She said the special success of ARFI schools sends a message that all students are capable of performing at high levels, even if they begin the school year somewhat behind.
"We realize that success in school starts with reading and when children become good readers in the early grades, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond," McKenzie said.

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