Four Leading Education Organizations Applaud and Urge Passage of Striving Readers, Introduced Today in House by Yarmuth and Plat
Bill Would Provide Grants to Improve Reading and Writing Skills
Of Nation’s Middle and High School Students
Four national organizations with a major focus on improving the academic achievement of students in grades four through twelve—the Alliance for Excellent Education, the International Reading Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and National Council of Teachers of English—enthusiastically issued statements of support today for the Striving Readers Act, introduced by Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Congressman Todd Russell Platts (R-PA).
The Striving Readers Act would provide grants to states and districts to create literacy programs specifically for students in middle and high school. The legislation would ensure that the over eight million students in the upper grades at risk of dropping out because they read below grade level receive the literacy interventions they need to earn a high school diploma that prepares them for the challenges of college and the workforce.
Specifically, the bill would:
- Help states create statewide literacy initiatives, share data on student progress with parents and the public, and improve teacher training and professional development in literacy so that all students receive high quality instruction
- Help districts and schools create plans to improve literacy, develop useful assessments, promote use of literacy strategies to enhance content mastery, and use student data to improve teaching and learning
- Allow districts and schools to hire and place literacy coaches, train parents to support the literacy development of their child, or connect learning inside the classroom with learning that takes place outside the classroom
- Require states, districts, and schools to participate in a rigorous evaluation that demonstrates student progress
- Require the federal government to complete an overall evaluation of the program to determine its impact on the nation’s middle and high schools.
Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, said, “Congressmen Yarmuth and Platts are to be commended for addressing the needs of the millions of American middle and high school students who are not reading and writing at grade level. Striving Readers will provide these students with the supports they need to succeed in high school, college, and today’s competitive workplace. The federal investment will be returned many times over in an economy strengthened by many more high school graduates, higher wage earners, and more productive citizens.”
Dr. Timothy Shanahan, International Reading Association President and member of the National Reading Panel, expressed enthusiasm for the bill, saying, “The International Reading Association appreciates the leadership efforts of Congressmen Yarmuth and Platts to promote adolescent literacy programs. Enhanced primary grade reading instruction is effective, but insufficient. The number of older students who struggle with reading—particularly boys and language minority youth—is troubling. An inability to read well affects everyone: students pay a high cost for missed opportunities personally and professionally, and national productivity is hurt when the workforce is not competitive. This legislation sends a positive message that it is not too late for older students. Many studies have been conducted on how to teach older students to read better. It is time to apply this research to improve reading achievement for our teens and preteens.”
“A successful schoolwide literacy program must be a collaborative effort among teachers and administrators, but the reality is that many middle level and high school personnel lack the necessary training and skills,” noted Dr. Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “I am so pleased that the Striving Readers Act will provide districts with the resources to provide professional development in adolescent literacy for teachers in core academic subjects, and training for school leaders to administer high quality literacy plans.”
Dr. Joanne Yatvin, president of the National Council of Teachers of English and member of the National Reading Panel, praised the bill for building capacity for teaching reading and writing in and through subject areas. “Adolescents must deal with complex texts and problem solving through reading and writing to achieve in the workplace, in higher education, and in their personal lives. This bill supports state and district literacy plans and essential professional development for teachers so that students can be successful in these goals,” Yatvin said.
“With 70 percent of middle and high school students reading below grade level, we are clearly not providing teenagers with the tools they need to succeed,” Congressman Yarmuth said. “The Striving Readers pilot program has been very effective at helping Kentucky students, who are on the verge of dropping out, graduate and successfully pursue a full college education. I am proud that this bill will build on that success by making these tools available nationwide.”
“The Striving Readers Act aims to focus federal dollars on teen literacy for the first time,” said Congressman Todd Platts. “Reading is one of the most important building blocks of the learning process, but many students who test well in reading during their K–3 years do not maintain that knowledge into their middle and high school years. This legislation will help older students build upon their early reading and writing skills so they can graduate and reach their full potential.”
This legislation is similar to a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Patty Murray (D-WA) on March 22; that legislation, S. 958, currently has attracted 16 cosponsors.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.