State Board of Education adopts literacy plan

Last spring I joined members of the Literacy Improves Future Endeavors (LIFE) task force in promoting a number of recommendations for policies to help our schools teach young kids how to read. Reading opens countless doors to students and brightens lives. Readers make Leaders!

But many Illinois students continue to face challenges when learning to read. Reading proficiency scores from standardized tests taken by nearly all Illinois students continue to lag and the state needs to do more to help. I supported Senate Bill 2243, which directed the State Board of Education (ISBE) to adopt guidelines for local school districts to evaluate and adopt concerning evidence-based core reading instruction programs. The legislation, signed into law last summer, includes a focus on at-risk children who sometimes get left behind. We want to see comprehensive Illinois literacy.

Last week ISBE announced its literacy plan, a 190-page program to move toward evidence-based reading instruction. It focuses on seven different aspects of literacy instruction, including phonics, comprehension and writing. The plan follows the legislature’s guidelines, but does not impose a mandate on local school districts, who will have choice when it comes to curricular modules. Find out more about the new plan here.