Extra! Extra! State Takes Strong Stance on Research-Based Literacy
Big news on Thursday: the Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success (the Center) at the Connecticut State Department of Education has released its list of state-approved early literacy curricula. In accordance with the 2021 Right to Read legislation, Connecticut public school districts will soon be required to select from among these core programs. On behalf of the Right to Read coalition, Amy Dowell released a statement that celebrated this landmark moment for Connecticut students. "We know there is a right method for literacy instruction—one that’s backed up by evidence,” it said. “Starting in 2023, we will finally see all Connecticut public schools using it."
The Reading Leadership Implementation Council also held a meeting on Monday to discuss the substantial process with which the state engaged while reviewing and approving these curricula. (You can watch the meeting here.) Dr. Melissa Wlodarczyk Hickey, Interim Director of the Center, led the Council through the Right to Read legislative requirements and the approvals procedures. She also outlined the very limited way that districts may pursue waivers. A complete waiver application is still pending, but the process will require applicants to:
Provide extensive documentation that their existing program is evidence-based, scientifically-based, and focused on a list of prescribed competencies;
Provide disaggregated reading assessment data by race, EL status, etc.; and
Describe specific strategies to address achievement gaps in reading.
Moreover, Dr. Hickey explicitly noted that the state will not approve waivers that include curricula/programs that "do not meet" expectations on either Edreports.org or Connecticut's own review processes. So many Connecticut districts still utilize the low-scoring balanced literacy approach used in programs like Columbia’s Units of Study. Thus, the state’s new direction will have a significant impact on many communities and schools. For example, New Haven rolled out a new plan for early literacy last week in order to prepare for implementation of Right to Read, according to the New Haven Independent.
We congratulate Education Commissioner Charlene Russell Tucker for steering the Center through this critical step in the implementation of Right to Read, and for standing strong on behalf of Connecticut readers!
CT Dems Host Rep. Jim Clyburn at the John Bailey Dinner
On Sunday night, Connecticut state Democrats held their annual John Bailey Dinner in Hartford. The event featured a keynote by Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, House Majority Whip and third-ranking Democrat in the US House of Representatives. CT Insider's coverage describes how Rep. Clyburn celebrated the success of Connecticut's current congressional delegation, but warned that next month's election "could very well determine whether or not this march toward a more-perfect union continues or whether it comes to a screeching halt."
His speech also addressed the importance of broadband access, equity, and education. "Let's make education accessible and affordable," he urged.
To those observing Yom Kippur,
we wish you a G’mar Chatima Tova.