Alabama Education Officials Using Federal Funds to Encourage Educator Literacy Trainings Aligned to the ‘Science of Reading’

Alabama will pay $1,000 stipends to teachers who have completed the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) literacy training program and who demonstrate at least 80% mastery of the course content. The LETRS program helps teachers master the fundamentals of reading instruction—phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and language.

The stipend helps reward teachers who have demonstrated mastery in the science of reading, and it encourages more Alabama teachers to complete the program.

We are spotlighting this because the emphasis on improving literacy instruction through a focus on professional learning tied to the science of reading is a strong use of recovery funds.

Reviewer Analysis

The Education Trust

It is important to ensure that all teachers have the tools to teach reading in evidence-based ways. It will be critical that Alabama find ways to recruit and prioritize these stipends for educators serving high-need schools or in schools that serve a high-population of students of color or students from low-income backgrounds.

The Rural Alliance

We like the program for its continued professional improvement support for teachers. We also like the emphasis on literacy. Great use of federal funds.

EdAllies

Fantastic investment and incentive for teachers to complete LETRS. That is a rigorous and time-consuming course that necessitates compensating educators’ time. Providing an expensive training at no cost to educators is frankly just not enough; they deserve to be rewarded for completion.

TNTP

We are encouraged that Alabama is allocating federal relief funds to improve literacy instruction. Equipping teachers to understand the science of reading and implement their learning to support learners is critical. Reading is the foundational skill to unlock learning across content areas. While multilingual learners constitute a small percentage of Alabama’s student population, we would still hope that the state does not inadvertently exclude its educators tasked with supporting multilingual learners. Educators working in transitional bilingual or dual language settings that seek to leverage home language skills to support literacy development, need an additional layer and lens to support them as they teach students to read.

Southern Regional Education Board

Alabama DOE has identified a research-based strategy for improving reading and student achievement. All grade level and subject content teachers can benefit from professional learning on the science of reading.

New Leaders

Allocating funds for professional learning focused on improving literacy and aligned to the science of reading is a strong use of funds! In addition, Alabama will need to consider how they support school leaders’ mastery of these practices and their ability to guide teacher learning and implementation.

The Bush Center

This is an excellent use of funds to invest in educator knowledge and practice in a fundamental area - reading.

Jocelyn Pickford

Evidence-based literacy training is essential for educators and this model has met with success in other states like Massachusetts.

Dale Chu

If literacy is equity, then Alabama is demonstrating a serious commitment to it by incentivizing teachers to get better at teaching reading. Setting aside the question of why many educators are coming into the profession ill-prepared in the fundamentals of reading instruction, the state’s effort could be an important step in helping to bolster the performance of their elementary schools and early education writ large.

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