75 elementary schools will be part of reading improvement initiative

With the help of a $12 million grant to Western Michigan University, elementary schools in 20 West Michigan counties will be part of an initiative that aims to improve student reading levels. School districts to work together to build a school leadership model based on the practices school district superintendents have seen in use at high-performing schools as part of the program.  

Schools in Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, and Kalamazoo counties are among 190 schools that will be part of the initiative.

The $12 million grant award, one of the largest single grants ever awarded to WMU, comes from the U.S. Department of Education. It will fund the High-Impact Leadership for School Renewal Project, led by Dr. Patricia Reeves, associate professor, and Dr. Jianping Shen, the John E. Sandberg Professor of Education and the Gwen Frostic Endowed Chair, in WMU's Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology.

The initiative began among a group of West Michigan school superintendents. "Initiatives that build from the ground up, like this one, are so precious," says Reeves. "They can ultimately lead to real change, and our job is to provide the support necessary to make this enormously ambitious project work and keep a complex range of moving parts in sync."

The project's goals are to develop a strong pool of practicing school leaders and improve student achievement.

The project will support teams of school principals and teacher leaders. It will:

• provide intense professional development and support, and money for renewal projects for teams of leaders in 75 schools that are implementing a set of new literacy essentials;

• place a trained team of school renewal coaches in each project school;

• provide a lower level of professional development support and funding for leaders in an additional 75 schools, and; 

• apply a set of proven school leadership practices for school renewal and sustainable implementation.

Each of the 75 high-need schools selected will receive professional development for the principal and a team of three teachers who may be future principals. The school team will be assigned a team of coaches who will work with them over a 30-month period. Each of the schools selected also will receive $20,000 over the 30-month period for school renewal efforts.

Source: Western Michigan University
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