PA 17-101—HB 7205

Education Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING EARLY LITERACY

SUMMARY: This act requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to establish a reading readiness program, within available appropriations. The program must provide three tiers of support in early literacy to each school district designated as an alliance district and each school in the commissioner's network of schools. It requires SDE to (1) determine the reading readiness of each participating school and school district by considering a combination of factors provided in the act and (2) provide literacy supports based on each school or district's reading readiness.

The act requires the alignment of tiered literacy supports with the improvement plan developed for the network school or alliance district under either of those programs (see BACKGROUND).

The act also requires the results of reading instruction surveys, which must be taken by all teachers in positions requiring endorsements in (1) early childhood nursery through grade three or (2) elementary education, to be distributed to the teacher and the supervisor responsible for designing and facilitating the teacher's professional development. The act specifies that survey results are confidential, but it eliminates a provision of prior law requiring that the survey be conducted in a way that protects the teacher's anonymity.

By law and unchanged by the act, the survey results are not included in the teacher's annual evaluation and are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Another law requires the survey results to be used to develop the teacher's professional development program (CGS 10-148b).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

READING READINESS PROGRAM

Factors in Determining Reading Readiness

Under the act, SDE must assess the reading readiness of kindergarten through third grade students at each school in the commissioner's network and each alliance district by considering any combination of the following:

1. whether the school or district has developed and is implementing a multiyear plan and allocated resources specifically for kindergarten through third grade early literacy;

2. whether teachers and administrators have been trained in the science of teaching reading, and the extent to which teachers and administrators have completed an SDE-designed program of professional development in scientifically-based reading research and instruction;

3. the level of access to external literacy coaches; and

4. whether the school or district has reading intervention staff.

Tiered Supports in Literacy

The act requires SDE to (1) identify the early literacy needs of each such school or school district in the program based on the results of the assessment the act requires and (2) provide tiered supports for early literacy. The three tiers to be provided are as follows:

1. Tier 1: universal supports to all 10 educational reform districts (the 10 lowest performing districts in the state), including online professional development modules aligned with the reading instruction survey, mentioned above, and other literacy modules and programs available in the state;

2. Tier 2: targeted supports, including (a) a two-year program of literacy leadership training for certain teachers and administrators, (b) targeted professional development in accordance with an SDE-designed reading instruction program using the results of the reading instruction survey, and (c) external coaching support using alliance district or commissioner's network funding; and

3. Tier 3: intensive supports, including multiyear SDE support and school or district commitment, including (a) the use of alliance district funding to support a kindergarten through third grade early literacy program, (b) technical support in the drafting and submission of alliance district reading plans, (c) identifying and including dedicated literacy coaches and reading interventionists, (d) targeted and intensive professional development, and (e) funds for assessment and instructional materials.

The tiered literacy supports must be aligned, as appropriate, with the plan developed for that school or district under either the commissioner's network program or the alliance district program.

BACKGROUND

Commissioner's Network of Schools and Alliance Districts

These are two SDE programs to provide state interventions in low performing schools and districts. The commissioner's network is for individual schools struggling to improve student achievement. The alliance districts are the 30 lowest performing school districts in the state.