Teaching At-Risk & Struggling Children to Learn to Read

RMTM Fund Criteria


Overview of the Reading Matters to Maine Fund:

A Fund under the Maine Community Foundation


Reading Matters to Maine’s Goal:

Reading Matters to Maine supports the goal that Maine children can learn to read at or above grade level by the end of third grade, including at-risk and struggling readers. We have the knowledge to teach all but 2-5% of children to learn to read. Do we have the will?


Per the 2015 NAEP reading scores for Maine, nearly 6.5 of every 10 Maine 4th grade students is not reading proficiently. Failure rate is higher for children of poverty, minority students, English language learners, and children with language-based learning disabilities. (Maine NECAP 2011). However, Maine has adopted Common Core Standards which include, within the English Language Arts standards, the K-5 foundational skills of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) as recognized in the National Reading Panel Report (2000). In addition, the State has adopted requirements for multi-tier systems of support (MTSS) such as Response to Intervention (RTI). These policies require evidenced-based core reading programs as well as multi-tier, increasingly intensive, explicit, systematic reading interventions (MTSS) for at-risk and struggling readers. These statutes were to be fully implemented in the academic school year 2012-2013. In addition to current scientific evidence about the reading brain, MTSS/RTI and Common Core/English Language Art Foundational Skills of Reading must become part of the knowledge base of current teachers who are, and pre-service teacher candidates who will be, teaching reading.

Purpose of the Fund:

1. To assist public schools and municipalities in providing on-going professional development generally for all current teachers who teach reading. K-8 teachers including ELL, Special Education as well educational technicians are a priority but other grade levels may be considered. School principals and department heads are encouraged to attend such professional development.
2. To help enhance teacher preparation programs for all Maine teacher candidates who will be teaching reading (to include K-8, ELL, SpEd, and Literacy Specialist candidates).

Reading Matters to Maine (RMTM) Criteria for Funding:

Grants may be given to nonprofit organizations, schools, colleges, and municipalities but not to individuals. This grant program is not appropriate for individual teachers seeking professional development funding. Proposals must include approval from a principal or university department head. Preference will be given to projects that clearly demonstrate how they plan to implement and sustain this new knowledge and/or practice into their school, district, college, or university. Organizations may request funding for expenses related to a variety of programs and activities as long as the focus is upon one or more of the following major (#1-5) RMTM criteria. With few evidence-based reading program exceptions, funding will not be granted for training in commercial reading programs.
1. The science of reading and the brain

2. The study of the structure of language

3. Understanding evidence-based research and evaluating core reading programs

4. Foundational skills of reading as defined in the National Reading Panel Report and in the Common Core Standards adopted by Maine.

a. Phonemic awareness
b. Phonics (decoding and encoding)
c. Fluency
d. Vocabulary
e. Comprehension

5. Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS)

a. Using universal (normative) screening for all students
b. Systematic, regular progress monitoring of students receiving intervention
c. Analyzing data to inform instruction and progress
d. Understanding the systematic scope and sequence of progressively more intensive reading instruction for students (Tiers 1, 2, and 3)
e. Implementation of explicit, systematic, multi-sensory multi-tiered 
interventions (MTSS) in evidence-based reading instruction in small groups or in the classroom.

Applicants and Grants:

Only proposals focused on RMTM criteria will be considered. Preference is given to grant applications that impact grades K-5. Grant requests may be resubmitted with clarifications determined to be necessary by the Fund. Proposals related to those listed will be considered. Targeted outcomes and sustainability of each proposal must be stated clearly. For grants over $2,500, an annual Project Progress Report will be required of grantees.

For Maine municipalities (public schools or public school districts):

a. Qualified guest lecturers, experts in a specific RMTM criteria (1 1/2 to 2-hour 

b. On-going professional development (eg workshops, one to three days; webinars) for teams of teachers working together to provide evidence-based reading interventions in a public elementary school or within a school district. Preference given for those proposals with continued teacher development/training, and professional support throughout the year with principal and/or department head participation required. 
Note that if such a program is funded by RMTM at a school or within a district, no fees can be charged to teachers for professional development for this event or activity.
c. The above formats for professional development are examples; other relevant professional development modes will be considered.

For Maine colleges and universities:

a. Qualified guest lecturers, experts in a specific RMTM criterion.
b. Development and implementation of a required graduate or undergraduate evidence-based reading curriculum by a qualified faculty member or consultant. Final syllabus must be submitted.
For further references see: Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science by Louisa Moats. Read More
See also The National Reading Panel Report: Read More
See also The National Council of Teacher Quality’s What Education Schools Aren’t Teaching about Reading Read More
Read the IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. Read the report.
c. A qualified instructor or adjunct to teach such a required, evidence-based reading instruction course (syllabus and credentials must be submitted), graduate or undergraduate.
d. Tuition scholarships to colleges and universities annually for required evidence-based reading courses in undergraduate and graduate programs (elementary education, literacy specialists, special education, ELL) in Maine public and private, not-for-profit universities (syllabi must be submitted for a review in order for a scholarship to be considered). The intent of the scholarships is to enroll teacher candidates and current teachers and educational technicians who will be/are teaching reading, preferably grades K-5, who would not otherwise be able to take the course due to cost.

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