Marietta school leaders approve $7 million effort to improve literacy

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

The Marietta City Schools Board of Education approved a multimillion-dollar initiative Thursday to improve literacy and combat learning loss among elementary school students, according to a press release.

The $7 million investment will go towards hiring 40 additional reading specialists for students in grades 1-5 who are below reading level, the release said. The money will also fund a one-time $5,000 bonus to all teachers providing direct reading instruction.

The funding will come from a combination of district reserves and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money from the federal CARES Act, said Marietta City Schools chief communications officer Chris Fiore.

According to Marietta City Schools’ 2022 Georgia Milestone results, 38% of third graders, 43% of fourth graders and 35% of fifth graders were reading below grade level. These figures are worse than the 2019 results, when 24% of third graders, 30% of fourth graders and 24% of fifth graders were reading below grade level. The Georgia Milestones measures end-of-grade proficiency in English language arts from grades 3 through 8.

Marietta City Schools has previously worked to improve literacy rates through a grant-funded partnership with the United Way, Wellstar, Cobb Collaborative, Learn4Life, Atlanta Speech School, early learning providers and other community organizations to help children develop language abilities from birth to age 8, the release said.

“Literacy is a top priority across our district,” said Marietta City Schools Board chair Kerry Minervini in a statement. “This investment shows our school board is committed to every child reaching their fullest potential by third grade. We believe this innovative and aggressive approach to literacy and learning loss will positively impact every teacher and student in each elementary school classroom in Marietta.”

Marietta City Schools will be hosting a virtual educator showcase on Thursday to further detail their commitment to improving literacy in the district, and to discuss opportunities for current and future educators, officials said in the release.