Shutesbury Elementary School, Information and Commentary

Reading at Shutesbury Elementary School

In February the school successfully applied for a Reading First grant totaling approximately $1,000,000 over 5-6 years to implement a comprehensive, K-3 reading curriculum. However on June 12 Shutesbury and 12 other schools in MA were notified that they have had their Reading First grants canceled because of a mistake the state Dept of Ed. made in calculating eligibility.  Evidently both poverty rate and reading scores were to be taken into account in determining eligibility not just one of those factors.

It is a shame to be loosing these grant funds and I wish the state Dept of Ed had been doing their job more carefully.

My sympathies to Tari and the rest of the literacy team.  They worked very hard on the grant application and on preparing this spring to implement the program.

Articles from the Cape Cod Times and the Boston Globe:

In general successful Reading First proposals in other states have specified the adoption of scripted, textbook-based K-3 reading curricula such as McGraw-Hill's Open Court. An adoption of a program such as Open Court would mean large changes in the curriculum and the roles of teachers at the school. Reading First grants can also support a selection of different supplemental materials and techniques for teaching reading as long as a single comprehensive curriculum is selected. I have put together the information on this site to help inform the school community about the Reading First grant program and the pedagogical research that both supports and is critical of the Reading First approach..

My wish is that the teachers and Tari Thomas work together cooperatively to submit a Reading First proposal that will strengthen and support reading at Shutesbury while making certain we don't lose the excellent progressive approach to education we already have.

These grants are available to schools who have performed poorly on the 2002 third grade MCAS reading test. However it's hard to see how Shutesbury falls into that category considering our actual MCAS scores for reading. It turns out that we are eligible for another reason. Any district with a poverty rate higher than 15% as determined by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue is also eligible. The 2001 rate for Shutesbury was 15.68%.

Information about the Reading First grant Shutesbury is applying for.

News, Commentary, and Research on Reading and Reading First curricula.

MCAS Reading results for 2002

I encourage members of the Shutesbury School community to consider this information and talk with the teachers, the principal, the superintendents and members of the school committee if they have questions or concerns.

Tari has written about her goals with the Reading First proposal in the Road Town News this week (Jan 31, 2003). I encourage everyone to read it.  The Road Town News is also available online here but the older issues are not archived. 

School committee meetings are on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 at the elementary school. The next meeting will be Feb 19th.

Other links with information about Reading at Shutesbury

Shutesbury: early literacy, By SCOTT MERZBACH, Staff Writer Hamshire Gazette, Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Stephen Bannasch
106 Sand Hill Road, Shutesbury, MA 01072
413 259 9125
[email protected]