DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Greg Taylor, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's vice president for programs, center, was surrounded yesterday at Palolo Elementary School by some of the children who stand to benefit from Kellogg's $10 million grant toward reading education. CLICK FOR LARGE
A record $10M grant will benefit early readers
The grant could boost state's lagging literacy rates
A plan to have every third-grader in Hawaii proficient in reading by 2015 has received a $10 million grant -- the largest private donation to early education in the state's history.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant will support the Hawaii P-20 Initiative, a project launched five years ago by the University of Hawaii, the state Department of Education and the Good Beginnings Alliance, a community organization.
To raise student achievement, the groups want to ensure smooth transitions from kindergarten through college, improve access to preschool and recruit top teachers and administrators.
A state program will use the largest private grant ever given to early education in Hawaii to teach young kids how to read.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation yesterday awarded $10 million to Hawaii's P-3 Initiative, a statewide effort to have every third-grader in Hawaii proficient in reading by 2015. Half of all third-graders have trouble reading at their grade level, according to recent tests.
The plan is part of the Hawaii P-20 Initiative, a broader project launched five years ago to raise overall student achievement.
"We think it has high potential," said Liz Chun, executive director of the Good Beginnings Alliance. "We need to work with the K-3 teachers on how we can work with the children as they enter (school), giving them assistance on practices and strategies that help them work with children who perhaps don't have the literacy skills."
The Kellogg money will be spent over eight years. Half of it will go to Lanai High and Elementary schools, programs on Kauai and in Waianae, and the native Hawaiian immersion program at UH-Hilo, Chun said. The rest of the grant will be given to other communities that put together literacy plans, she said.
The Hawaii P-20 Initiative is headed by the University of Hawaii, the state Department of Education and the Good Beginnings Alliance. To raise achievement, the groups want to offer children more early education opportunities and smooth their transitions from kindergarten through college. They also want to recruit top teachers and administrators.
The 2006 Hawaii State Assessment showed that only 50 percent of third-graders are proficient in reading, and that fewer than half of fifth-, eighth- and 10th-graders in the state can read at their grade level.
The grant's announcement came as a statewide survey found most public kindergarten schools either lacking transition plans for students or failing to implement them.
Only 4.9 percent of 177 schools surveyed last fall had proper transition policies in place, according to the Hawaii State School Readiness Assessment. The survey of 628 teachers and 164 principals also noted that 39 percent of kindergarten students had no preschool experience.
The assessment recommended better professional training for teachers and principals and increasing educational opportunities for poor students who tend to fall behind.
Karen Knudsen, chairwoman of the state Board of Education, said part of the grant could train education graduates about ways to teach children to read.
"I don't know if we have many teachers coming out of any university who know how to teach reading," Knudsen said.
The Kellogg foundation has given Hawaii's P-20 program about $20 million, said Greg Taylor, the foundation's vice president for youth and education. Similar multimillion-dollar grants have gone to Mississippi, Florida and Washington state, he said.