Georgia Dept. of Education investing $30M in literacy coaches statewide

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Big step towards solving literacy problem

The Georgia Department of Education is taking a big step to solve the literacy problem in Georgia. They are putting $30 million into the new effort.

The Georgia Department of Education is taking a big step to help address literacy problems statewide. The agency will be investing $30 million to provide literacy coaches to 60 elementary schools across the state with the lowest literacy rates.

In Georgia, the latest data shows about 36% of elementary students are reading below grade level. To address those low rates, the state is committing $10 million annually, for a 3-year contract, to provide those literacy coaches. 

Amy Denty, Director of Literacy at the Georgia Department of Education, says the agency is dedicated to getting those scores up.

"We want our schools to have data-based decision-making," said Denty.

Denty says a good coaching program is designed to support classroom teachers and hopes adding 60 literacy coaches to the lowest-performing elementary schools will help struggling classrooms.

"We always say that universal screeners wave the red flag, but you have to dig in a little deeper to see what the actual need is for the student," she explained. "Coaches can help with that process, coaches can help by providing demonstration lessons, walking side by side with the teachers."

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11 Atlanta Public Schools fall on the list of the 60 most under-performing elementary schools for literacy.

Georgia elementary reading scores still are not at pre-pandemic levels, but the number of students reading at their grade level or higher increased in 2023 by 2% for third-graders, increased by 1% for 4th graders but decreased by 1% for 5th graders.

Denty says ultimately, they hope the literacy coaches will help educators bridge the gap between the science of reading and its application of it. "The goal is that we’re able to take that professional learning that is happening that is required by the Georgia Literacy Act," she said. "And make sure it is implemented in these schools because if we don’t bridge that gap then all that professional learning goes up in smoke."