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State pushes 'high-quality instructional materials,' teacher learning in effort to improve literacy

United Way of Delaware

Reading proficiency rates in Delaware have stagnated over the past few years, with only about half of students reading at grade level, according to the state Department of Education.

The state is responding with a new planto tackle the problem. 


It outlines strategies for teachers and school leaders to use “high-quality instructional materials” — including ones that reflect a diverse student population. Other goals are enhancing early literacy instruction, aligning core instruction to standards and supporting educators through higher education.

"When you put it all together—while it seems intuitive, there have been some gaps,” said Associate Secretary of Education for Academic Support Monica Gant. “This is an opportunity for us to fill those gaps by looking at the whole picture and putting all the pieces in place to ensure that students are successful.”

Gant says the standard for literacy goes well beyond the ability to sound out words. “There is some decoding and word recognition, but they have to be able to comprehend, they have to be able to understand what genre they’re reading in ... They have to have reading stamina, so they have to be able to pursue reading — I mean, there’s so many pieces that they have to do.”


The plan aims to improve student learning outcomes and educator professional learning opportunities. It also attempts to bolster partnerships with the state’s colleges and universities, community organizations and families.

Implementation of the plan is being funded with $850,000 allocated in this year’s budget for micro-credentialing and professional learning for educators.  

The plan’s timeline stretches through the spring of 2021. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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