(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced new investments in training programs for DC educators. The investments will allow more educators to participate in the Language Essential for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program and also support the launch of a new Science of Reading course.
“When we support high-quality learning opportunities for our teachers, we are supporting high-quality learning opportunities for our students,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are proud to have so many teachers in DC who go above and beyond for their students every day and who make it a priority to constantly develop their craft. When we have learning opportunities like these, it helps us attract, develop, and retain the best teachers in the nation.”
OSSE will invest over $3 million in Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as $16 million in grants funds from the Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) grant program to expand access to evidence-based literacy trainings for educators across the District, including the LETRS program. The investment will allow 380 additional educators, for a total of 530 educators, to be trained in the LETRS program. Eligible educators from participating schools will include early childhood and K-5 classroom teachers and school administrators.
The new literacy investments will also support the launch of a Science of Reading course that will be offered for pre-K to grade 3 educators in participating schools. The educators will participate in 25 hours of coursework grounded in the science of reading to understand how even the youngest students attain critical literacy skills. OSSE will also provide $1,200 stipends for each educator that completes the LETRS program, and $1,000 for up to 1,000 participants who complete the Science of Reading course. Between the Science of Reading training course and LETRS, OSSE will be providing incentives to more than 30% of the District’s pre-K through grade 3 educator workforce to complete these important trainings.
“Instructional strategies grounded in brain science are the best way to ensure our youngest learners attain critical literacy skills for future academic success. The District of Columbia is deeply committed to building strong reading skills in all learners, and the District’s educator workforce is our greatest asset in this critical work,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “With these new literacy investments, OSSE will accelerate learning for DC students. Professional learning opportunities grounded in the science of reading give educators the ‘why’ behind what they do every day and demystify the difficult, but essential, task for students – learning how to read.”
OSSE is also leveraging local funds to equip educators with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to identify students who may be in need of higher-tiered literacy interventions, including students with reading disabilities. This includes the development of guidance for K-2 universal screeners and Dyslexia awareness modules that will be available to educators in OSSE’s learning management system platform.
In addition to these new investments to improve literacy outcomes for DC students, OSSE is working diligently and purposefully to lead the DC Literacy Task Force in establishing a set of long-term, actionable recommendations that will ensure all educators, including those who join the District’s workforce in the years to come, will have access to high-quality literacy instructional training and resources in fiscal year 2025 and beyond. The Task Force will provide a written report to the Mayor and Council by September 30, 2023.
“Educators who have participated in the first few training cohorts have reported feeling more confident in their literacy instruction, and we are excited to see continued growth and improvement for years to come,” said Dr. Grant. “The foundation for literacy built from these trainings will reap rewards not only for students who have faced disrupted learning due to the pandemic but for every learner in a participating teacher's classrooms for the entirety of their careers.”
OSSE has also committed approximately $16.8 million to fund high-impact tutoring in literacy for approximately 7,600 students, and is currently on track to reach a total of more than 13,000 students across both math and literacy by fall 2024. High impact tutoring programs are one of the most effective ways to accelerate learning for students from low-income backgrounds.
To learn more about OSSE investments in training programs for educators and other learning initiatives, visit osse.dc.gov.