With the passage of the LEARNS Act, Arkansas is doubling down on its commitment to supporting the literacy outcomes of students statewide. The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is in the process of implementing additional supports such as a cadre of Literacy Coaches to support high-quality instruction and a universal literacy screener to better identify struggling readers. Additionally, DESE is launching the Arkansas Literacy Tutoring Grant Program, a new program that will provide thousands of families up to $500 which can be used towards literacy tutoring services for eligible K-3 students.
The Arkansas Literacy Tutoring Grant Program connects families with high-quality tutors who have been approved by the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. To be eligible to serve as a tutor, an individual must be a certified teacher in elementary education or reading, or have a degree in education, English, or another subject indicative of expertise in reading and literacy, and all tutors must have training on the science of reading. An FAQ about the program can be found here.
Eligible students are any student enrolled in a public school or open-enrollment public charter school who is determined to not meet the reading standard, as approved by the state board, or who was retained and is repeating third grade this academic year. These students have already been identified by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. For the 2023-2024 school year, the reading standard for the purpose of identifying student eligibility for the Literacy Tutoring Grant is defined as:
- For students in grades K-2, eligible students scored in the following percentiles on the beginning-of-year K-2 assessments. Students achieving at or below the
- Lowest 10th percentile for Kindergarten;
- Lowest 15th percentile for grade 1;
- Lowest 20th percentile for grade 2.
- For students in grade 3, eligible students scored at or below the 25th percentile on the prior school year end-of-year literacy assessment.
- Current students in grade 3 who were not promoted.
DESE will notify districts of eligible students in two stages. The first stage of letters will be released on January 29, 2024 for students in the highest eligible priority groups that ADE can fully fund. Eligible students from this first stage will receive priority to apply for funds over other eligible students. After February 22, 2024, all remaining letters will be released to districts for all eligible students, provided there is still money available to fund additional literacy tutoring grants. Any remaining funds will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis subject to application approval.
Each public school district and open-enrollment public charter school must notify the parent or guardian of each eligible student of this opportunity by no later than February 7, 2024 for the first priority stage released on January 29, 2024 and no later than March 3, 2024 for all remaining eligible students released on February 22, 2024.
To assist in communication with families, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed a template letter and mail merged student information for districts to send out to eligible families. Superintendents can access and download pre-populated letters by logging into Digi Locker using their State Active Directory credentials to log in. Superintendents are encouraged to use this letter as their required correspondence to the parents or guardians of each eligible student. Superintendents are also encouraged to coordinate with each principal in their district and their state Literacy Coaches (if applicable) to assist in disseminating information about this opportunity.
DESE will provide an informational video for districts and open-enrollment public charter schools on the program and application process on the Literacy Tutoring Grant Program website.
DESE has additionally attached a detailed guidance document for districts that outlines important information about the program.
Please contact email@example.com with questions about the application or program requirements.