Jan 15, 2020

New Report Addresses State of Early Literacy in Louisiana and Recommends Improvements

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Early Literacy Commission today submitted a report commissioned by the Louisiana Legislature that addresses the state of primary grade reading in Louisiana, seeking to evaluate how reading is taught to young children and how such teaching might be improved. It recommends a significant increase in the types of training and support available to reading teachers and an annual state investment of $15 million to carry out such efforts. 

"The report submitted today makes a series of recommendations related to non-negotiable supports every elementary school must offer its teachers and students. It then goes further to make specific recommendations for needed improvements," said State Superintendent John White. "The report is just the start of a conversation. Nevertheless, the researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who developed the report have developed an impressive body of knowledge and a potentially influential set of recommendations. I look forward to its consideration among lawmakers, board members, parents, and teachers."

Research points to third grade as a critical year in determining a student's success in higher grades and in life beyond graduation. Students who do not read proficiently by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school, for example, and early reading skills have a positive impact on behavior and college attendance. As a result, the report states, all Louisiana students should be proficient-achieving Mastery or above on state assessments-in reading by the end of third grade. 

In order to ensure more students are able to meet this bar, the report continues, the following must be true across Louisiana:

  • Every teacher uses a high-quality curriculum to teach students the foundations of reading and language and literacy.
  • Every student who struggles to read receives timely research-based literacy interventions.
  • Every school has a culture in which all teachers are responsible for and equipped to deliver effective literacy instruction.
  • Every school leader maximizes the use of time and personnel through scheduling and collaborative planning.
  • Every teacher effectively uses evidenced-based practices to meet the literacy needs of all students.
  • Every educator preparation program emphasizes evidence-based literacy practices.
  • Every school system implements a comprehensive literacy assessment plan that includes valid and reliable assessment tools used for different purposes at different times during the school year.
  • Every teacher uses literacy assessment data to monitor students' progress and inform instruction.
  • Every school community expands opportunities for parents and families to be engaged in their children's literacy development.

The commission report details 17 policy recommendations to achieve these goals. The recommendations are divided into four key areas: instruction materials and intervention materials, school system and school leadership, teacher preparation and professional growth, and progress monitoring and communication. The report also puts forth a timeline for each recommendation.

During the 2020-2021 school year, for example, the report recommends the Louisiana Department of Education work with local school systems to select, train and place a Literacy Coach in every K-2 school, supporting teachers in teaching the foundations of reading. It also recommends that the Department select and train state-level Literacy Coordinators to provide support, such as additional training for literacy coaches, in K-2 schools. These coaches and coordinators would form a network of support for all primary grade reading teachers so that no teacher is without proper training and development in the foundations of reading.

Read the full report.

"Louisiana teachers, students, and parents have been working hard to improve early literacy, and the data indicates progress," said Dr. Susannah Craig, Associate Commissioner for Teacher and Leadership Initiatives for the Louisiana Board of Regents and co-chair of the commission. "The recommendations of the Early Literacy Commission acknowledge the current work and progress but demand a push ahead to ensure success for all Louisiana students."

President and CEO of the Center for Development and Learning Dr. John Wyble, who serves on the commission, agreed. "Louisiana's future is tied to early literacy. The goals outlined by the commission are achievable, but only with an investment."

The Louisiana Early Literacy Commission comprises state education leaders and policymakers, educators and parents. It was established by the Louisiana Legislature during the 2019 regular session, and it convened for the first time in September 2019

The report was submitted to the Louisiana Governor, the House and Senate Education Committees, Board of Regents, Children's Cabinet, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Moving forward, the Louisiana Early Literacy Commission will continue to meet to review progress and data, and in January 2021, it will provide a follow-up report on the status of the implementation of its recommendations.

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