On February 5, 2020, the Connecticut General Assembly will convene, and by doing so, it will pass laws that affect the state’s nearly 3.6 million residents. The ReadyCT team will maintain a presence among legislative circles, continuing to advocate on behalf of Connecticut’s 520,000+ public school students.
Since our 2011 inception, ReadyCT has prepared for each legislative session by working with our board of directors and other stakeholders/partners to create an education policy agenda that advances the academic excellence and postsecondary readiness of students while also respecting Connecticut’s fiscal reality. This year is no exception. ReadyCT will focus on four areas:
- effective literacy instruction
- greater access to high-quality career-themed learning
- more opportunity for transferable dual-enrollment courses and
- stronger investment in school and district leadership
In doing so, we will look to leverage existing resources, placing minimal stress on state and local budgets.
In settling on its 2020 policy agenda, ReadyCT first analyzed data to offer workable solutions. In this four part blog series, each of the four ReadyCT 2020 policy priorities will be examined, starting first with effective literacy instruction.
Effective Literacy Instruction: #1 of 4 ReadyCT 2020 Policy Priorities
When it comes to literacy, data and research show the problem is two-fold; reading scores are stagnating or declining, and the gap in reading performance remains a stubborn problem, i.e., Connecticut has the nation’s largest reading performance gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers. On the 2019 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) report, reading scores for Connecticut 4th graders dropped four points to 224 from a 228 score in 2017, and students from low-income households scored, on average, 35 points below their higher-income peers.
ReadyCT’s 2020 policy response is grounded in settled science. Research proves that students must explicitly learn phonics and phonemic awareness, coupled with the development of a robust vocabulary, in order to connect the words they naturally speak to the words written on a page. A law that gives the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) greater oversight of educator preparation programs and district-adopted curricula would tamp down the use of other popular but less effective reading strategies and ensure that phonics-based instruction is provided to all students. Because literacy is the cornerstone of academic success — when students fail to develop the skills necessary to read and write effectively, their ability to perform in all of their future endeavors is stifled, with lifelong implications for progress in college, career, and life — there is no room to entertain anything other than the most effective and scientifically proven learn-to-read program.
As usual, ReadyCT is eager to work with individuals and organizations similarly engaged in this work from the business, civic, and education sectors. Partnerships get things done, as was the case last year when ReadyCT worked alongside several others to advance P.A. 19-128, the law that requires computer science instruction in all Connecticut public school systems. Given the state’s lingering budget constraints, we stress that we must approach this work with a sense of pragmatism, but that doesn’t mean we can’t demand better outcomes with only minor or no financial investment.
Part II of this blog series will focus on greater access to high-quality career-themed learning opportunities, complete with underlying data and workable policy solutions. Your input on any policy we advance is most welcome, and your partnership is encouraged. To speak with us about these ideas, please contact us at info@readyCT.org.