Governor Signs Virginia Literacy Act

Governor Signs Virginia Literacy Act 4
Governor Glenn Youngkin ceremonially signed the bipartisan Virginia Literacy Act, sponsored by Delegate Carrie Coyner, R-Hopewell, and Senate President pro tempore, Senator Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, a bill which will empower parents and students with a transformational focus on early childhood literacy. The Virginia Literacy Act, HB 319 & SB 616, ensures that teachers are trained in the science of reading, supported by science-driven professional development, and requires school systems to provide all students with instruction, screening, and monitoring of their early reading progress, with those results shared with parents. Working with parents, schools will be required to create an individualized reading plan for each student identified to have a reading deficiency. The bill also requires that school systems provide resources to support literacy development at home.

“The most important thing we can do, as parents, as educators, and as a community, is ensure our children learn to read, so that they can read to learn. Today is a meaningful bipartisan step forward to give our students the tools they need to succeed not only in the classroom, but in life,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We have a real challenge on our hands when it comes to childhood literacy. Over the last few years, Virginia has seen a decrease in reading proficiency and the pandemic has magnified this challenge facing families, students, and educators.”

“We have a reading crisis on our hands as recently released data from the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment, which identifies students in grades K-2 who are at risk for reading difficulties, reveals our children’s reading peril. The data shows that even before the pandemic too many children in Virginia were failing to reach reading benchmarks, and that children of color, children with disabilities, and children living in poverty were disproportionately performing below benchmark,” said Delegate Carrie Coyner, patron of HB 319. “Today we celebrate the Virginia Literacy Act being signed into law as it will ensure all students receive the support they need to become proficient readers by third grade; parents receive information to ensure their children receive the instruction they need to become proficient readers; and teachers have access to professional development and curriculum for scientifically based core literacy instruction and to better identify and assist students with reading difficulties. Our scientific based approach to literacy with our youngest learners will prepare all students for future scholastic achievement in higher grades.”

“The Virginia Literacy Act is a game-changing bipartisan effort currently stuck in neutral until the budget passes,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. “Implementing this evidence-based legislation, including deploying reading coaches to work with our most-behind students and their teachers, is critical to preparing children to succeed across the Commonwealth. This transformational work cannot start until the General Assembly delivers appropriate funding to the Governor’s desk.”

Additionally, Governor Glenn Youngkin added: “This legislation aims to ensure above all else that every student, no matter their zip code, family income, or background, learns to read leveraging the most effective, evidence-based methods. Early literacy is the foundation for succeeding in school and in life. We must do everything to provide our students with every tool to achieve their unique dreams.”

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