FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County Schools is investing $90 million in COVID relief funds to promote literacy and it said it's already seeing positive results. The school district is moving into the second year of its Every Child Reads program.
Chief Academic Officer Dr. Clifford Jones said the program focuses more on reading comprehension than basic ability. Jones said the district is using about 60 percent of its American Rescue Plan funding to expand the program, after launching it last year.
The money will go to hiring 65 specially trained coaches, plus an 80-hour training course for 3,000 teachers and staff.
"We have a once-in-a-lifetime infusion of money to not only transform education in regards to a fundamental school, but we also have the need right now," Jones said. "Literacy is fundamental in terms of what their learning loss indicated, but how we accelerate the curriculum and their skills to move past it.”
Jones said the district is already seeing increased reading scores on the Georgia Milestones test. The district currently sits at 72 percent of third graders reading at or above grade level. That's eight percent more than the state average. Jones said the goal for the new reading program is to get that number to 95 percent.
He said it will help that the program reduces the number of reading programs district-wide down to one.
"During the pandemic, Fulton County had 20 reading programs," Jones said. "Through every Child Reads, we have the same resources, which allows the fundamentals to be taught irrespective of zip code or location across our district. Before this, only certain schools had these coaches. Sometimes, schools used Title 1 funds or others. But now this is the standard of service, and these coaches are making a difference on a daily basis.”