Illinois House committee approves Literacy & Justice For All plan

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — Roughly 40% of fourth graders in Illinois read below the basic level, and state lawmakers want to pass a plan this spring to improve literacy.

Rep. Laura Faver Dias said third graders who can’t read proficiently are four times more likely to drop out of school. The Annie E. Casey Foundation also found that third graders lacking basic reading skills are six times more likely to drop out of high school if they come from a low-income family. 

Faver Dias told the House School Curriculum & Policies Committee that her proposal could require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a comprehensive literacy plan and modify the reading improvement block grants program. House Bill 3147 would also allow ISBE to create new tools to support high-quality reading curriculum and provide districts professional development opportunities for teachers.

“Strengthening early literacy instruction and support for students in Illinois will pay dividends in the future by empowering students, providing the skills they need to graduate, find fulfilling careers, and be productive members of their community and our democracy,” Faver Dias said.

The Literacy & Justice For All Act could also add a foundational reading exam for candidates in educator prep programs. Faver Dias and advocates noted that the state would pay for the assessments so prospective teachers and program leaders wouldn’t have to worry about the cost. ISBE would start the low-stakes exam for candidates seeking a teaching license after October 1, 2025. 

“The candidate would take the assessment. If the candidate doesn’t pass the assessment, no problem. They still get their license. If they do pass the assessment, they earn an additional credential,” said Jessica Handy, the government affairs director for Stand For Children. “And then, we would have aggregate data on the program for how many candidates are passing that test.”

Handy noted that thirty-six states have approved legislation to address literacy and support evidence-based reading instruction. She explained that current reading curriculum in Illinois relies on debunked reading methodologies. Handy said this proposal promotes phonics, oral language development, vocabulary, and background knowledge.

“All of that stuff matters and our teachers deserve to learn all of those tools in their toolbox so they can meet the needs of every kid that comes before them,” Handy said. 

Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Effingham) said he is concerned that the foundational reading exam doesn’t have teeth. Wilhour said candidates failing to pass the exam shouldn’t be allowed to teach young students how to read. 

“If we’re going to create this test and our teachers aren’t up to snuff on this test, there should be something there that sends them to some sort of remedial courses or something,” Wilhour said. “We can’t continue on the path that we’re on. So, I appreciate that you’re trying to tackle that. I’m just a little confused about this.” 

House Bill 3147 passed out of committee on a partisan 10-5 vote. The legislation will head to the House floor for second reading, but Faver Dias said she plans to file an amendment after more negotiations with stakeholders.

Copyright 2023. WAND TV. All rights reserved.

Media Feeds All

via – RSS Results in news of type article

March 8, 2023 at 03:41PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s