Riverside is one of two counties selected for $1 million Literacy Partnership Grant

By the Office of the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Judy White reads to students. Photo courtesy of the Riverside County Office of Education

In 2017, results for English Language Arts (ELA) on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, 51.44% of all K–12 students did not meet the standard for ELA. In order to improve ELA scores and increase students’ achievement in ELA, the California Department of Education (CDE) and Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) are working together with a focus on early literacy.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond selected two county offices of education, Tulare and Riverside, to be a part of this effort. RCOE was chosen due to current literacy efforts, paired with unmet needs that can be met under this new partnership. Additionally, working with CDE allows partners to implement strong early learning efforts, work with established biliteracy programs, and provide pathways to increase student access to books in the home language. There is also great potential for customized efforts to specific underserved populations such as English learners, native tribe populations, homeless youth, and foster youth student groups.
“We are excited to partner with the California Department of Education on such an urgent and important issue — increasing our students’ reading abilities,” commented RCOE Superintendent Dr. Judy D. White. “The achievement gap between white students and students of color is present before they even begin kindergarten. It’s critical all students are proficient readers, that we encourage and support a love of reading, and ultimately, help to improve the literacy rates for all students in Riverside County.”
On Oct. 8, RCOE held a literacy launch event to highlight the Riverside County initiative, “Readership.” The slogan for the RCOE campaign is “Read to me. Any Age. Any Stage.” Eight districts are participating in the literacy grant effort including Alvord, Beaumont, Corona Norco, Desert Sands, Jurupa, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, and Val Verde.
Dr. Felicia Cruz-Delgado, director of leadership, innovation, and outreach, is coordinating the effort for the RCOE.
“This wonderful opportunity with the California Department of Education will enhance our focus on engaging families and communities to increase literacy and opportunities for all students,” said Cruz-Delgado.
Upon taking office, Superintendent Thurmond immediately started working on his priority initiatives — improving statewide literacy as one at the top of the list. With that in mind, this campaign will seek to provide books in the hands of students, resources and support for teachers to help support the efforts, and family and community engagement to reinforce the love of reading for all ages. This new campaign is just the first step of Thurmond’s bigger vision to roll out a large-scale statewide literacy effort that will require the CDE to identify and collaborate with private funders and foundations to help increase literacy rates in our public schools.
Thurmond said, “We can’t do this alone, but with the right partners, we can make some serious strides in a positive direction when it comes to our state’s literacy rates.”

Butterfield Elementary students Photo courtesy of the Riverside County Office of Education