STEAMBOAT SPRINGS- Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services (NW BOCES) has been awarded $1,053,710 in funds for Colorado Department of Education's Increasing Achievement and Growth Grant. The funds will be used to support literacy initiatives in the seven NW BOCES school districts. NW BOCES is one of only four recipients of this competitive grant.
CDE requested proposals from throughout the state to identify methods for increasing literacy achievement for students with disabilities. The NW BOCES' project focuses on pre-K through 3rd graders. CDE sited NW BOCES' strong collaboration among districts as a factor in being chosen for funding. Jane Toothaker, NW BOCES Executive Director, explains that, "our BOCES is considered to be a model throughout the state on how member districts can work together to share resources and ideas."
The NW BOCES Increasing Achievement and Growth Grant is partially modeled after a region-wide grant received in 2011 from the Colorado Health Foundation for PE curriculum development. A Literacy Grant Coordinator will be hired to facilitate grant activities for a three year period. Each district will have at least one representative to serve on a Regional Literacy Committee. The representatives will take leadership in their districts to analyze how special education teachers, general education teachers, and specialists are working together to support literacy instruction and progress monitoring for students with disabilities. The grant funds will also support extensive literacy professional development opportunities, home literacy initiatives, and technology to support literacy instruction. Robin Tschider, Special Education Director, confirms that "this focus is needed in order to reduce the achievement gap between general education and special education students throughout the region."
Taking all seven districts' data into account, there is a region-wide 37 percent difference in third grade reading scores between students with disabilities and general education students according to 2011-2012 Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) results. This trend is referred to as an achievement gap, and it is seen as a challenge throughout the state. NW BOCES districts are taking leadership in reducing the state-wide achievement gap through these grant activities.
The NW BOCES member districts benefitting from the grant include East Grand School District, Hayden School District, Moffat County School District, North Park School District, South Routt School District, Steamboat Springs School District, and West Grand School District. Other organizations receiving the grant are Poudre School District, Jeffco Public Schools, and San Luis Valley BOCES.