Anchorage, AK --
On Wednesday, Governor Dunleavy unveiled the Alaska Reads Act -legislation to create a comprehensive statewide reading program to address the crisis.
But the real question is why -why is Alaska falling so far behind? When Your Alaska Link asked Governor Dunleavy he replied, "There's a whole host of issues, but lack of focus -lack of focusing resources. A lot of times what happens, and I think teachers can relate to this, we add more and more to a plate, and as you add more and more to a plate, some things that are important kind of get squeezed down."
Last year, only 37% of Alaska's 3rd grade students were proficient in reading. Plus, for the second year in a row, 4th graders in Alaska ranked last out of all 50 states in reading performance, with only 25% of students performing at or above the proficient level. The Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS), Alaska’s summative assessment also showed that over 60% of 3rd grade students scored below or far below proficient in English language arts between 2017 and 2019.
The Alaska Reads Act includes these fundamental principles:
- Statewide teacher training on reading instruction and job-embedded training through department-employed reading specialists
- Focusing existing state and federal funds
- Early literacy screening tool
- Timely parent notification
- Individual reading plans
- Monitored student progress
- Home reading strategies and/or programs
- Appropriate grade-level progression for students severely below grade level
- Multiple pathways to demonstrate reading proficiency
- Good cause exemptions
The act will be finalized during the legislative session that begins on Tuesday, January 21st and will be implemented in the fall.
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