Governor Dannel P. Malloy, together with Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, today announced that five elementary schools have been selected to pilot an intensive new reading intervention program for students in kindergarten through grade three. The K-3 Literacy Initiative was created as part of comprehensive education reform bill approved earlier this year with bipartisan support in the legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
"By improving literacy in kindergarten through third grade, we're helping Connecticut's young people set a foundation they will build on throughout their lives," said Governor Malloy. "Literacy is not just a skill, it's the key to achieving success in just about any endeavor our young people aspire to. By reinforcing these skills at an early age, we can make sure that make sure our young people have the tools to turn their dreams into reality."
"Providing an opportunity for every child to develop good reading skills at an early age is not only critical to their future as individuals, but to the future of Connecticut," Lt. Governor Wyman said. "This intervention program can truly change lives, and help solidify the long-term economic direction of our state. The investment we are making today will pay us back dramatically and lead directly to a better quality of life for our children, now and when they become adults."
Public Act 12-116, An Act Concerning Educational Reform, targets $1.77 million in funding to support 25 new positions, one literacy coach and four reading interventionists in each of the five schools, who will help implement new instructional practices, individualized academic interventions based on student needs, and data monitoring strategies to improve literacy instruction.
As mandated by the new education reform law, elementary schools from the ten education reform districts were eligible to apply for the K-3 Literacy Initiative pilot. Selections were made following a competitive application process that included school-site interviews. The schools are:
Anna E. Norris Elementary School -- East Hartford
Latino Studies Academy at Burns School -- Hartford
John Barry Elementary School -- Meriden
Truman Elementary School -- New Haven
Windham Center Elementary School -- Windham
Connecticut Commissioner Stefan Pryor said, "There is compelling evidence that an intensive focus on literacy, particularly for those identified as struggling early readers, can have a dramatic impact on a child's future school success. The General Assembly, particularly members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, deserves great credit for making early reading a priority as part of education reform this year. We look forward to building on this commitment."
The literacy specialist assigned to each school will provide embedded professional development for one year, supporting the principal and other school personnel in the development of reading instruction best practices. The four reading interventionists will be deployed to provide intensive, individualized, and data-driven instruction for all students reading below proficiency.
As conditions for selection as a K-3 Literacy Initiative pilot school, each school will assign its principal or assistant principal to monitor adherence to the new literacy program, organize a cohesive literacy team that meets regularly and uses data to examine student work and plan instruction, and provide uninterrupted daily literacy instruction periods of at least 120 minutes in duration, among other ongoing responsibilities.
Connecticut has one of the largest reading gaps in the nation. More than one-third of low income (defined as eligible for free or reduced price lunch) in Connecticut enter formal kindergarten classes already behind their peers. By the end of grade three, just 26% of Hispanic and African-American students read at Goal level on state mastery tests. Lacking intensive interventions, these students fall further behind their peers each year, limiting their chances of future academic success.