/ Modified mar 20, 2023 4:43 p.m.

Cochise County gets more money for reading

The county wants to increase the number of students able to read at a third-grade level

library bookshelf Pima County Library bookshelves.
Mariana Dale/AZPM

The board of supervisors in Cochise County approved a $260,000 grant agreement between the Cochise County and Coconino County Superintendent of Schools to help support K-5 teachers in getting their required K-5 Literacy Endorsement training.

The percentage of Arizona’s third-grade students who are reading at grade level is below 50% according to Cochise County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jacqui Clay.

“Right now in Arizona, only 41% of our students can read at third-grade level,” said Clay during last week’s meeting. “In Cochise County, it’s 37% … To combat this, we’re going to purposefully and assertively train our teachers in literacy for reading.”

Cochise County’s third-grade reading proficiency was at a low in 2021, with only 29% of third-grade students in the county reading at grade level according to data from Center for the Future of Arizona [https://www.arizonafuture.org/progress-meters/education/third-grade-reading/], a nonprofit that provides data on education, civics, and workforce development in Arizona.

According to the agenda, third-grade reading proficiency levels are often used as an indicator as to how well a student will perform academically in high school and also can be a predictor of whether or not they will move on to higher education.

According to the Arizona Department of Education’s website [https://www.azed.gov/standards-practices/k-5literacyendorsement] the Literacy K-5 Endorsement training requires three semester hours of college coursework or 45 hours of approved training in reading instruction, to include systematic phonics.

The training also requires three semester hours of college coursework or 45 hours of approved training in reading instruction in assessments, instructional practices, and interventions to improve student reading proficiency for students who are struggling to read, including students with dyslexia.

Clay says this training is required by the state and the grant agreement will cover the fees for teachers to acquire the training.

The statewide goal is to have 72% of all third-graders reading at grade level, and currently, only 41% of Arizona third-graders meet that goal according to the Center for the Future of Arizona.

According to the agreement, the 2022-2024 Literacy Capacity Grant was awarded by the Arizona Department of Education to the Coconino County Superintendent of Schools.

Coconino County Education Services Agency will manage the finances of the grant and will reimburse Cochise County’s Education Services Agency for the costs of the training.

As per the agreement, Coconino County will have up to 30 days to reimburse Cochise County once the invoice is received.

Cochise County’s share of the grant totals $260,056.30. Clay said that she and the county superintendents of schools of Coconino and Yavapai counties wrote the grant. She added that Cochise and Yavapai County will be turning in their invoices to Coconino County, as they are the fiduciary agent for the grant.

The vote unanimously in favor of approving the grant agreement.

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