Give Oregon Kids What They Need to Learn to Read!
Give Oregon Kids What They Need to Learn to Read!
**UPDATE June 2021: We deeply appreciate each & every signature on this original Oregon Kids Read petition. As we continue to call for statewide training for all K-3 teachers, please consider sending a quick email to leaders today, asking them to immediately support struggling readers in Oregon's lowest-performing schools in the wake of COVID. While the state is receiving $2.6 billion in federal recovery funds, we have yet to see a *single* dollar dedicated specifically to addressing the academic achievement gap that worsened during the pandemic.
Right now in Oregon, we’re experiencing a reading crisis: almost HALF of our students aren’t reading at grade level.
The good news is we have the power to turn this crisis into life-changing opportunity.
Science shows almost any child can learn to read, given the right tools.
Oregon’s amazing elementary school students are capable of becoming readers. Oregon’s equally amazing teachers are capable of teaching them how to do it.
What’s missing in this essential equation? YOU!
Here's what our kids & teachers are facing and how signing this petition can make a difference:
Right now, Oregon's not giving our kids what they need to learn to read and our teachers what they need to teach reading.
Today, if a kindergartner moves from Portland to Pendleton or from Ashland to Astoria, there’s no guarantee they’ll receive a high level of phonics-based reading instruction that’s proven to work. In fact, there’s no guarantee that they’ll receive effective instruction within their own school since Oregon doesn't offer our K-3 teachers the same literacy training grounded in how the brain works.
This arbitrary system is failing our teachers and our kids. Last school year, 2018-2019, almost half of all Oregon students didn’t meet reading benchmarks. When it comes to preparing our children of color, our outcomes are appalling. Only 26 percent of our third-grade African-American students and 27 percent of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders are reading at grade level. For Latinx students, it's 28 percent. These numbers are especially unacceptable because we have access to research that shows what we need to do - and we’re not doing it.
When we know better, we do better: we have a historic chance to turn Oregon K-3 students into readers.
Like Oregon, only 56 percent of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania third graders were reading at benchmark levels three years ago. An American Public Media report detailed how Bethlehem’s chief academic offer, Jack Silva, refused to accept this. Silva helped spearhead district-wide teacher training focused on whole-class phonics called Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). Last year, over 84 percent of Bethlehem’s kindergartners were reading at grade level. At three schools, it was 100 percent.
Mississippi has the highest rates of poverty in the nation and a richly diverse student body. Forty-eight percent of their students are African-American. Almost nine percent of students are Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Native American and mixed race heritage. Mississippi has also trained 13,000 educators in LETRS. This year, Mississippi was the only state in the country whose 4th grade reading scores improved on national standardized tests. Oregon’s scores were flat - and below the national average.
Giving our K-3 teachers the literacy training they deserve will be a game changer for tens of thousands of students.
There’s no good reason we can’t do better for our kids. It just takes political will and leadership.
Oregon Department of Education has already approved LETRS as an optional dyslexia training for instructors. When state lawmakers convene in January for the interim session, they should dedicate a portion of Student Success Act funds towards LETRS training for all K-3 teachers and reading specialists.
Teachers should be compensated for this additional time, including ongoing professional development and instructional coaching. All Oregon teachers at every grade level should also receive implicit bias training, crucial to supporting students from backgrounds different from their own.
Some educators and administrators may hate the idea, arguing that a local approach is best. But that’s the scattershot system we currently have and it’s creating an unstable, inequitable education for our kids, especially our most vulnerable.
We call on the Oregon legislature to dedicate 2 percent of the $1 billion Student Success Act (SSA) budget towards K-3 reading instruction that's proven to work for students, including struggling readers.
This 2 percent would come from the portion of SSA funds already set aside for Oregon state-wide initiatives.
Mississippi spends $15 million a year on its successful K-3 literacy program. Their students are thriving - Oregon's students deserve the same opportunity.
WE CAN DO THIS!
photography by Shutterstock.com