Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New legislation aims to revamp how students learn to read

Delaware Public Media

Only half of Delaware students are reading at grade level. Now, one state lawmaker, a retired teacher, has a plan to boost reading scores.

State Sen. Laura Sturgeon’s bill would require teachers to use evidence-based methods to teach young readers. She calls it “the science of reading.”

"I’m trying to get Delaware to a place where every student is being taught to read basically using the best practices we know based on the science of the brain research and the cognitive psychology and all those elements instead of just it just being a matter of luck that you get a teacher who knows how to teach you this way," she said.

Sturgeon says the idea came from a constituent, a reading specialist, who was disappointed to see not all schools teach reading according to the science.

Sturgeon says evidence-based reading instruction is used in other states, including Mississippi, where she says students’ reading scores have significantly rebounded.

With so many students in Delaware falling even further behind during the pandemic, Sturgeon calls her bill a “great equalizer.”

"The science of reading works for all students.  It works whether you’re low-income, high-income, whether you have a learning disability or not, so we really have a chance here by implementing these instructional practices to get some equity back and to help bring the struggling readers up to where they should be," she said.  

If passed, the law would be implemented in kindergarten through third grade classrooms starting in 2027.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for April 6th.

Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.