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
  • Interventions
  • 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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