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Early Literacy Screening Assessment and Professional Development

Grants to Massachusetts Schools, School Districts, and Special
Education Programs to Support Reading Evaluations for K-3 Children

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

Deadline Date:

06/01/21 5:00 PM Receipt


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Grants to Massachusetts school districts, charter schools, and eligible special education programs to support reading-level evaluations for children in kindergarten through third grade. Funding is intended to promote the use of reliable early-literacy assessments that will inform instructional decision-making and planning in the early elementary grades.

The goal of the grant is to increase the number of districts using an approved screener. The grant also provides funding to purchase professional development, which focuses on using results from an approved early literacy screener to make data-based instructional decisions for students in grades K–2 or K–3.

There are two possible paths to receive this award. Districts that do not have an approved screener should consider Path One. Districts that do have an approved screener and are seeking professional development to support data-based instructional decision-making should consider Path Two.

Path One: Funds may be used to purchase: 

  • Materials for an approved early literacy screening assessment, including necessary hard-copy materials and/or site licenses, for use with all K–2 or K–3 students in participating schools. If the materials are hard-copy, a two-year supply may be purchased. If the materials are digital, a two-year subscription may be purchased.
  • A one-year training and support package from the assessment vendor, which typically includes introductory training for staff and ongoing consultation and support throughout the first year of assessment use.

Path Two: Funds may be used to purchase a one-year professional development package that focuses on implementing an approved early literacy screener assessment and/or using the assessment's results to make data-based instructional decisions to support K–2 or K–3 students.

An approved early literacy screener will measure students' risk for experiencing reading challenges, including but not limited to their risk of dyslexia, as referenced in Chapter 272 of 2018. Universal screening assessments are not intended to determine eligibility for specific learning disabilities including dyslexia. Rather, they inform instructional planning at Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 levels. 

LEAs receiving this award will be required to participate in future research efforts related to early literacy assessment, including:

  • Providing student-level assessment data from the early literacy screening assessment acquired under this grant program to DESE on an ongoing basis for research purposes. Analyses will only be reported in the aggregate (e.g., by grade-level, region, etc.) in order to meet state and federal confidentiality laws. The identities of districts and schools will not be reported. All reporting will protect the identities of students, educators, schools, and districts.
  • Participating in DESE's future research efforts to understand early literacy assessment, achievement, and instructional practices, which may involve surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups with LEA and school staff, including, but not restricted to district and school leaders, literacy and reading specialists, and classroom teachers.
  • Designating an individual to be responsible for data submission and to serve as a liaison between the LEA and DESE for communication about data collection and evaluation efforts.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 195499

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

The maximum award for any LEA is $100,000. Funding distribution will be based on the number of quality proposals submitted and the total cost of the training and support packages chosen.

Term of Contract:

Upon approval through June 30, 2022

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Public school districts, charter schools, collaboratives, and approved special education programs that serve students in grades K–2 or K–3 are eligible to apply. LEAs may determine the number of schools, and which schools within the district will participate.

Competitive priority will be given to LEAs based upon demonstrating one or more of the following:
- At least one elementary school identified as requiring assistance in the state accountability system based upon 2019 data
- A majority of participating K–2 or K–3 classrooms are currently using high-quality core curricular materials for ELA/Literacy, as defined by a rating of "Partially Meets Expectations" or "Meets Expectations" on EdReports or CURATE:

Funds for substitutes are not allowable under this grant. Funds for stipends are not allowable under this grant.

Funds may not be used to purchase technology (e.g., iPads, headphones), data systems (e.g., a subscription to an assessment's database or data analysis tool if such systems cost extra), or instructional resources (e.g., instructional materials, student activity materials, or digital resources associated with the assessment).

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due by Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Early submission is strongly encouraged to ensure the complete application is received and confirmed by 5 pm on the due date.

Send questions to Dr. Mary Brown. All Questions and Answers will be posted to the Early Literacy Screening Assessments page on the DESE website:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Email applications to

Direct questions to Dr. Mary Brown at the email address above.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370

Funding or Pin Number:

Fund Code: 576

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts

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