Louisiana Believes recently released an article titled, Louisiana Department of Education to Convene Group to Study Early Literacy in which they announced Monday, September 9 marked the first meeting of the newly developed Louisiana Early Literacy Commission-a section within the Louisiana Department of Education. The Commission is comprised of state leaders, educators, and parents that will research to determine the way Louisiana can create and implement a cohesive system of reading instruction for children starting at birth and ending with the third grade. The Early Literacy Commission was formed by the Louisiana Legislature during the 2019 regular session.
The Commission will come together and meet every month. Their main goal will be to research and analyze information to assess the ways evidence-based reading is being taught in the state’s public schools and early childhood education locations. Secondly, they will assess the amount of educators that have been trained and possess skills in evidence-based reading instruction. The educators being assessed will include teachers and instructors from kindergarten to the third grade, special education teachers, and reading specialists. Lastly, they will evaluate state colleges of education and alternative certification programs to evaluate the ways in which they teach and study evidence-based reading practices. This will include programs for teachers and instructors from kindergarten to the third grade, special education teachers, and education specialists.
When the Early Literacy Commission convenes in January 2020, it will give a final list of recommendations to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana State Legislature.
The final recommendation list will include:
- The ways in which the state can guarantee that teacher preparation programs provide their students with the knowledge needed to teach evidence-based instruction from their first days;
- The ways the state can help the public school systems can adopt reading programs that maximize the usage of evidence-based reading instruction; and
- The ways in which the state can make sure it provides its educators with the evidence-based skills needed to ensure the reading proficiency its third graders.
In addition to its research and recommendations, the Commission will create a tentative timeline for increasing the third grade reading proficiency while establishing benchmarks for the near future.
The creation of the Early Literacy Commission was done at the insistence of the Louisiana State Legislature. They urged the Department of Education to create the group for the following reasons:
- Students that are not proficient readers by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
- Those who do not possess a basic level of reading proficiency are six times as likely to drop out of high school
- Students without a proficient third grade reading level are almost two-thirds of those that do not graduate from high school on time.
- Early reading in childhood has a positive impact on collegiate attendance.
- Ninth graders that read on level as third graders are three times more likely to attend college.
- 85 percent of all youth that have interactions with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, along with 60 percent of prison inmates.
- The state of Louisiana spends over $270,000 a year to remediate students that read below their grade level.
These programs are the way in which the state can take action in making sure its students are literate and upstanding citizens. They are aiming to begin the foundation early in ways that have proven to be effective in other communities.
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