We’ve been focused on elevating the early literacy crisis here in Illinois and working with advocates in the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition to solve this problem in a collaborative way.
That’s why I was struck by this New York Times article that dove into the current reading crisis. The report elevates the crisis to a national level, showing the impact on students across the country. It illustrates the effects of the pandemic while also noting that the reading problems predate the pandemic.
“The causes are multifaceted, but many experts point to a shortage of educators trained in phonics and phonemic awareness — the foundational skills of linking the sounds of spoken English to the letters that appear on the page,” the report notes. “The pandemic has compounded those issues.”
Based on the progress and updates made by other states in recent years, we know what works when it comes to teaching children to read using evidence-based literacy instruction. As noted above, a number of those practices were highlighted in the Times’ coverage.
Children who struggle with reading face a lifelong impact both in and out of the classroom.
The Times report also highlights that the issue is also exacerbated by the teacher shortage, with a lack of qualified educators and outdated curricula holding back some schools. Even researchers offering intensive, small group tutoring at underserved schools have had difficulty filling open positions.
I hope you’ll dive deeper into this issue and join us on the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition. Visit the Coalition’s website, join the mailing list, and add your voice to those of other Illinoisans who have joined together to improve reading outcomes for our state’s students.