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State Senate committee looks at early literacy in Delaware

Joe Irizarry
Delaware Public Media

Early literacy is a topic the state Senate Education Committee wants to improve in the First State.

The committee heard from experts on the topic Monday. 

They told the committee you can’t assume teachers possess the knowledge to enact evidence-aligned reading instruction, and it’s not their fault.

Laura Stewart is with the nonprofit The Reading League.  She says part of properly teaching reading is the simple view of reading.

She argues it’s a big picture model that sees both aspects of reading, decoding and language, as equally important in making sense of text.

Stewart also says there are also three big ideas when it comes to teaching reading.

"The first big idea is based on this misconception that reading is somehow a naturally occurring process, but indeed we know it is not and instruction really counts," said Stewart. "The second big idea is this convergence of evidence, this is our guiding light,  and the third most exciting idea is this promise with research-based instructional we can deliver on his promise of virtually literacy for all."

Committee chair Laura Sturgeon (D-Brandywine West) says she’s drafting legislation that focuses on three ways to help teachers are better equipped to tackle early literacy.

"Making sure that in Delaware our higher ed's that teach teachers especially elementary teachers and special ed teachers in particular making sure they are teaching correctly and then we're looking at professional development for teachers who are already in the field," said Sturgeon. "We are also looking at the possibility of an assessment that those teachers coming from other states could take to demonstrate that they know how to teach reading according to the science."

The experts say that science is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically based research about reading and issues related to reading and writing.

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