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05/19/2024 01:21 AM
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: May 15, 2023 03:59 PM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument and Sen. Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Literacy Achievement for All Pennsylvanians
Children learn to read in elementary school and for the rest of their lives they read to learn. So, it is especially alarming that nearly half of Pennsylvania fourth-grade students are reading below their grade-level. Studies show that childhood reading difficulties can produce long-term effects and dramatically impact someone’s chances of success. Currently, one in five American adults struggle with reading basic sentences. For these individuals, tasks such as reading the mail, completing tax forms, or even engaging in civic duties can be nearly impossible.
Our students need us now more than ever, and literacy is a great equalizer. It not only empowers our communities, but also improves health, teaches employment skills, and allows us to better understand and navigate the world around us. Literacy cannot be a skill that is reserved for wealthy families and those who can afford private tutoring. Literacy is for all, and thankfully we can look to decades of cognitive science on how to achieve this goal.
To meet this objective, our legislation, which will mirror a proposal introduced by Representatives Justin Fleming and Jason Ortitay, will present a three-stage approach: First, with evidence-based reading curricula, we will bolster literacy instruction, ensuring literacy achievement for children across the Commonwealth. Second, through a universal screening, beginning in the first 30 days of school, we will outline a process to identify struggling readers. Finally, by looking at the screening data, it will help us to design and implement intervention plans, to prevent children from falling behind. These steps will put the necessary supports in place and put all children on the path to reading proficiently by the third grade. 
This work takes courage, heart, and will require leadership but our students are worth it. Please join us in sponsoring this important literacy initiative.

Introduced as SB801