Illinois Democrats pushing literacy education reform, bills advancing – The State Journal-Register

The sun rises over the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, October 20, 2021. The state is the top employer in Sangamon County. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

The Illinois General Assembly’s spring session has less than 25 days left, prompting state legislators to ratchet up the bill process in their dwindling time before May 19.

Among their priorities is responding to dropping literacy rates in Illinois schools, which dipped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Illinois State Board of Education’s state Assessment of Readiness, found that 29.9% of students between third grade and eighth grade met or exceeded state standards in reading last year- a 7.5% point drop from 2019 as reported by Chalkbeat Chicago.

Having witnessed it in her home, Louise Dechovitz, board member at Avoca School District 37 in the Chicagoland area, called illiteracy a systemic issue throughout the state. Her son struggled with reading and, despite following instruction from his teachers, the issue persisted for several years.

The reason for the reading struggles of many Illinois school children, Dechovitz said, is due to educators themselves not having the proper instruction on how to teach students to read.

“There’s a clear disconnect between the standards and the actual course content,” she said.

During a Monday press conference, Deschovitz and fellow advocates joined Illinois Democrats in discussion of illiteracy and a bill package which is the subject of multiple bills in both chambers.

More Education:Education legislation takes center stage in General Assembly

Senate Bill 2243 and its companion bill in the House – House Bill 2872 – both passed through their respective chambers unanimously. The bills call for the ISBOE to have its statewide literacy plan completed by Jan. 31, 2024. So far, 36 other states have literacy plans.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago, is sponsoring both pieces of legislation and said the literacy plan has been a project years in the making.

“Literacy has been called the most solvable problem of our time,” she said during the virtual press conference put-on by the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition.

House Bill 3147 also passed in the House last month, albeit in a partisan 68-35 vote, which require the state board to draft a rubric for districts to measure the effectiveness of their literacy programs. State Rep. Laura Faver Dias, D-Chicago, crafted the bill and also noted from her time as a high school teacher the shortcomings in how reading is taught throughout the state.

“Oftentimes, there’s an ineffective reading curriculum that encourages students to guess from pictures and context clues rather than decoding the words,” she said. “By the time these students had come to me in high school and to high school teachers today, the words are more complex and the pictures are gone.”

Other portions of the bill, which she said are not mandated on school districts, would include a test for new teachers to take measuring their knowledge in literacy education. Faver Dias clarified in floor debate last month that teachers would not have to pass to the test, but would receive an extra credential.

In February, House Minority Leader Tony McCombie tasked state Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, to lead the GOP response to low student literacy.

“The group to bring our students back to reading levels, to math levels, to levels in science is going to be tough, let’s be realistic,” he said during a Feb. 14 press conference. “It’s going to take a comprehensive approach, with the focus being on restoring our students to a place where their competitive with the rest of our country and the rest of the world.”

Severin, however, did vote against HB 3147.

Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340,,


via “Illinois Politics” – Google News

April 25, 2023 at 02:54PM

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