SREB Middle Grades Report 2011 cover image

Southern States Must Address Middle Grades Education Immediately, Report Warns

Only about a quarter of rising ninth graders in the Southeastern United States will graduate high school on time, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB). “The middle grades are the make-or-break point of our K-12 public school system,” SREB President Dave Spence said in a press release. “If states are serious about raising graduation rates and preparing more students for postsecondary study, work has to begin now on the middle grades.”

The SREB is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established by regional governors and legislators to improve the public education system. The organization covers 16 states in the South and Southeast, working directly with state leaders, schools and educators to improve learning and student achievement from Pre-K to higher education. The 16 states covered by the SREB have made “good” progress in early grades achievement in recent years according to the report, but a number still lag behind national standards.

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Offers Grant to Encourage Reading

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is offering a grant to support reading skills. Some of the requirements for this grant include,  literacy instructions for kids pre-K to the third grade, intergenerational literacy and literacy for adults. No grant request should exceed $65,000. The deadline for this grant is September 9, 2011.  

Build A Bear Foundation Grant Gives a Hoot about Literacy and Education

Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation builds a strong foundation for literacy and education. This grant provides support through summer reading programs, early childhood education programs and literacy programs for children with special needs. This grant is made possible through the sale of a special Build A Bear stuffed animal named Turner the Owl. With each purchase of Turner the Owl, 50 cents is donated to First Book, a non-profit that helps kids in need get new books. It also helps support other literacy programs throughout North America.

Longer Classes Improve Literacy

Longer classes in reading and writing could help students get promoted to the next grade according to a 2010 report from the Public Policy Institute of California. The Blueprint for Student Success was a literacy program that ran for five years to determine what works in reading reform in the San Diego Unified School District. According to the report, the program helped mostly elementary and middle school children. However, the program did not show any results either positive or negative in regards to completing high school college prep work. The study recommends that the Department of Education ease its Title I requirements so school districts could use the money for reforms that target both low-incoming students as well as low performing students regardless of school or neighborhood.