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Three new education bills to help statewide literacy are signed into law

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney used the first day of school for many Delaware children to sign 3 bills looking to address literacy in the First State.

Two of the new laws help implement a science of reading approach that teaches reading by breaking down the essential components of literacy.

House Bill 304 requires students to participate in universal reading screenings 3 times a year to identify potential reading deficiencies and allow schools to implement early intervention tactics as needed.

Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 4requires the Department of Education to maintain and publish a list of evidence-based, reading instruction curriculum for grades K through 3.

Carney says the goal is to improve literacy rates across the entire state.

“The fact of the matter is that we need to do a better job, and particularly for certain students. Here at North Star Elementary School the proficiency rates are very high,” said Carney. “But that’s not the case across our state. So we really need to lean into those schools and areas where the students are not where they need to be.” 

The bill package also included Senate Bill 195, which targets media literacy. Carney says lack of media literacy skills affects not only young students, but adults, as well. The bill requires the Department of Education to develop and maintain evidence-based media literacy standards, including responsible and healthy online behavior, for use in grades K through 12.

State Education Secretary Mark Holodick says these laws are part of a comprehensive approach to literacy in the First State.

“It starts really with the requirement for the science of reading to be taught in our teacher prep programs. Support for teachers around how to use the science of reading within their classrooms,” Holodick explained. “Supporting them through professional development with time, time embedded within the school day.”

The combined bills will help in the mission to not only to combat a decline in Delaware’s literacy rates, but also help students combat misinformation in their reading moving forward by teaching them to safely, responsibly, and critically consume information across different forms of media.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021.