Title 17. Education

Chapter 43. School Choice Scholarships

Part III. Steve Carter Literacy Program



17:4032.1        Steve Carter Literacy Program; establishment; student eligibility; service provider eligibility and approval; administration; payment amounts and uses; notifications; reports; funding


A. The Steve Carter Literacy Program, referred to in this Part as the “program”, is hereby established for the purpose of providing funds for supplemental educational services for eligible students. 


B. A public school student who falls into one of the following categories is eligible to participate in the program: 


(1) He is in kindergarten or the first, second, or third grade and is determined to read below grade level or be at risk for reading difficulties according to the results of a literacy assessment. 


(2) He is in the fourth or fifth grade and scored below mastery in English language arts on the state assessment administered the prior school year. 


(3) His eligibility cannot be determined according to the measures provided in Paragraphs (1) and (2) of this Subsection due to the lack of literacy assessment or state assessment results but he is recommended by his English language arts teacher for participation in the program due to the student’s reading difficulties. 


C. The state Department of Education shall administer and provide for the implementation of the program pursuant to rules and regulations developed and adopted for such purpose by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. 


D. In administering the program, the department shall: 


(1) Evaluate student’s eligibility for the program. 


(2) Develop an application process for students and providers and accept applications. 


(3) Evaluate providers of supplemental educational services including but not limited to those with expertise in early literacy to determine their initial and continued eligibility for program payments. The department shall establish minimum criteria by which approved providers shall be evaluated to ensure program effectiveness in improving students’ reading abilities, including but not limited to performance on approved literacy assessments and the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program state assessment. Providers that fail to demonstrate improvement in students’ reading abilities for two consecutive years shall be deemed ineligible to participate in the program. 


(4) Remit payments to such providers for services rendered to students in the program with the lowest-performing economically disadvantaged students given the highest priority. 


(5) Notify the governing authority of each public school of the application process, requirements, and deadlines for parents and legal guardians. 


E. By not later than September thirtieth of each year, or as soon as practicable if a student’s reading deficiency is identified after this date, each public school governing authority shall notify the parent or legal guardian of each student who is eligible to participate in the program of the process for applying for the program and other information provided by the department pursuant to Paragraph (D)(5) of this Section. 


F. (1) The department shall remit payment for services provided, up to a maximum of one thousand dollars per student per school year. Program money may be used for any of the following eligible purposes that are designed to improve reading or literacy skills: 


(a) Books for home use, including electronic or digital books and subscriptions to online book clubs; however, such costs shall not exceed two hundred fifty dollars per school year. 


(b) Instructional materials and curriculum, including but not limited to online materials, that have been reviewed in accordance with R.S. 17:351.1 and have been determined to fully align with state academic content standards. 


(c) Tutoring services provided by a person who is trained in the state standards for English language arts and who holds a valid teaching certificate in either elementary education or reading or holds a baccalaureate or graduate degree in education, English, or another subject area indicative of expertise in reading and literacy. 


(d) Summer education programs. 


(e) After-school education programs. 


(2) The department shall remit payments to approved providers on behalf of eligible students. 


(3) Any expenses above the limit established in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection shall be the responsibility of the student’s parent or legal guardian. 


(4) The department shall develop a procedure for verification that students in the program received the services for which payments were made. 


G. The department shall submit a report to the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education by not later than April thirtieth of each year regarding the implementation of the program. The report shall include, at a minimum, the following information for that year: 


(1) The total number of students on whose behalf payments were remitted. 


(2) The public schools in which such students are enrolled and the number of students on whose behalf payments were remitted in each school. 


(3) The total dollar amount of payments remitted to approved providers. 


(4) A list of the approved providers to which payments were remitted and the supplemental educational services provided to each student. 


(5) A report relative to the performance of each provider and overall program performance with respect to improving participants’ reading abilities. 


H. Implementation of the program is subject to the appropriation of funds or the availability of any local funds for the purposes of this Part. The department may use any federal or state funds appropriated for the purpose of increasing early literacy or supporting academic achievement among elementary school students to make program payments. 


Added by Acts 2021, No. 415, § 1.