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Delaware Senate Democrats

Senator Sturgeon introduces legislation to improve reading instruction

March 25, 2022

DOVER — Career educator and Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Brandywine Hundred, this week introduced new legislation to strengthen literacy among Delaware students. 

Evidence-based reading instruction, or the “science of reading,” focuses on understanding the cognitive learning processes that are essential for reading proficiency. Implementing curricula that supports the science of reading is a recommended best practice for helping students learning to read in kindergarten through the third grade. This legislation not only gives guidance on high-quality instructional materials, but also supports educators and supplies them with the resources needed to teach reading using evidence-based techniques.

“We know from the 2019 Delaware Literacy Plan that only about half of Delaware students are reading at grade level,” said Sen. Sturgeon, a former teacher in the Brandywine and New Castle County Vo-tech school districts. “This legislation in conjunction with legislation I introduced and passed last year around teacher preparation programs will put us on a path to ensuring every teacher in the state has the necessary training and materials to effectively teach reading to all students.”

Senate Bill 4 requires the Delaware Department of Education to maintain and publish a list of evidence-based, reading instruction curricula. The bill also requires that by the beginning of the 2027-2028 school year, school districts and charter schools serving students in grades K-3 do all of the following:

  • Adopt a reading instruction curriculum from the Department list.
  • Demonstrate that all educators who teach reading participate in high-quality professional learning about evidence-based reading instruction.
  • Identify a school-based supervisory position responsible for assisting with the implementation of the adopted curriculum.

In addition, SB4 requires that school districts and charter schools provide an annual report to the Department regarding the implementation of these requirements and the Department must produce an annual report summarizing this information.

Sen. Sturgeon also introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 82 that helps the Department of Education assess how best to adapt teacher certification requirements to align with the science of reading. 

Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, also introduced House Bill 304 today, which would require all public school students in kindergarten through grade 3 participate in a universal screening 3 times per year. This bill will allow for early intervention with the chance to identify reading deficiencies including dyslexia. 

“I have spent my career as a legislator fighting to give every Delaware student a high-quality education,” said Rep. Kim Williams. “This means that we must equip our educators with the tools to intervene early when it comes to diagnosing and supporting students with potential reading disabilities. House Bill 304 ensures that young students are set up to succeed early on in their education.”