In 2020, Sci4Ga’s intern, Paige, wanted to make sure all kids could read. And that launched a search for evidence-based best-practices and inflection points. The connections we made and things we learned led us to host an Education and Workforce speaker series, attended by education experts, business leaders, and policymakers, including Lt Gov. Duncan. That was followed by a roundtable that Rep Gambill and Rep Evans attended. At that roundtable, 20+ people agreed “we need to focus on getting kids literate – which means we need to focus on evidence-based literacy instruction, and we need to look all along the pipeline from birth to death.”
There are several steps to building a community-based literacy pipeline – and step 1 is understand what is already going on.
In that spirit, in 2022, Rep Gambill, Rep Evans, Rep Greene, Rep Mathiak, and Rep Paris introduced and sponsored HR 650 which established a study committee on literacy instruction.
This resolution was the result of hard work and input from many different individuals and organizations.
HR 650 Stated Goals
- Define evidence-based literacy instruction
- Understand impact of low-literacy on Georgia’s workforce competitiveness
- Identify all the programs that exist along the pipeline and understand how they can work together
- Examine how changes can be made to education standards to support evidence-based instruction and enable adaption as new science emerges
- Determine how Georgia can best support and expand local ecosystems to maximize potential and while enabling local flexibility
- Recommend actions and legislation as needed
HR 650 Passed!
Watch the testimony about it – on Feb 16, Amy Sharma, spoke before the House Education Committee (remarks begin around 31:15)
For the committee, Science for Georgia pulled together an introduction to evidence-based literacy instruction and information from various programs that were achieving success in Georgia.
Low Literacy / At Grade Level (basic)– Understand the words, answer simple questions, read through material in a certain amount of time.
Literate / Proficient – Make Reasonable Inferences from the material.
As people learn to read, they are building mental muscle that enables them to read words and sentences with speed, accuracy, and comprehension. Evidence-based literacy instruction utilizes the “muscle building” techniques: building from letter sounds, to combination sounds, to whole words, to entire sentences. At the same time, it builds a library of defined words. Thus, evidence-based literacy instruction spends time on both sounding out words and understanding the words (this is termed the simple view of reading). By the end of third-grade, when given a block of text, proficient readers have the mental muscle to easily read the words and know what those words mean; therefore, they can comprehend the block of text to learn.
2. Understand impact of low-literacy on Georgia’s workforce competitiveness.
3. Identify all the programs that exist along the pipeline and understand how they can work together.
4. Examine how changes can be made to education standards to support evidence-based instruction and enable adaption as new science emerges.
5. Determine how Georgia can best support and expand local ecosystems to maximize potential and while enabling local flexibility.
6. Recommend actions and legislation as needed.
NOTES: On 3/28/2022 this article was updated to include the vote on HR 650 and remove the links to write your legislator about it.
On 8/30/2023 this article was updated to include information about the outcomes of the committee’s work.