Hundreds of preschoolers at the Long Beach Unified School District’s Child Development Centers will benefit from a new $3.5 million federal grant to boost early literacy. LBUSD is one of only two agencies in California, and 28 in the nation, to earn such a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
“We’re so excited,” said Lauren Shaw, director of LBUSD’s 24 Child Development Centers. “Improving early literacy is one of the most important things we can do to close gaps in student achievement.”
The new funding, which begins arriving next month and lasts for three years, goes mainly toward training CDC teachers and parents, helping them use research-based techniques such as phonics instruction to ease youngsters’ transition to kindergarten-level reading.
The grant will pay for a full-time project coordinator and three full-time reading coaches. The coaches are successful elementary reading educators from LBUSD, who have just helped to wrap up a six-year federal grant to improve reading in kindergarten through third grade.
Under the latest grant, the three teacher coaches will provide monthly training to teachers from all of the preschool sites, though they’ll spend most of their time at five of the largest sites – the Carmelitos CDC near Barton Elementary School, West CDC near Cabrillo High School, Central CDC at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Grant CDC at Grant Elementary School, and Twain CDC at Twain Elementary School. The grant allowed a maximum of fives sites to receive intensive assistance.
The school district’s Office of Multimedia Services will videotape the training sessions so that they may be used by other teachers in future years once the grant expires.
“Our intent is to become a model for the state and the nation,” Shaw said.
Funding also will go toward a full-time data technician to help teachers carefully track student progress in reading. A half-time parent educator will share effective strategies that parents can use at home to nurture young readers.
The Child Development Centers serve toddlers and preschoolers at 24 elementary and K-8 school locations and four Long Beach Parks and Recreation locations throughout the cities of Long Beach, Lakewood and Signal Hill. The centers also serve school-age elementary children before school, after school and during the summer.
About 2,300 students attend the Child Development Centers. Of those, about 1,200 are considered preschoolers (between the ages of three and four). These preschoolers will benefit from the teacher training provided under the grant.
The centers, which offer low- and no-cost services depending upon family income, operate ten to twelve months a year with most of them open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.