Reading skills steadily declining among Louisiana’s younger students, report shows

Education superintendent explains how state intends to address the trend

Reading skills steadily declining among Louisiana’s younger students, report shows
(Source: KEYC News Now)

(KSLA) — Increasing numbers of Louisiana’s youngest students are reading below the benchmarks set for them.

A literacy update this month from the state education department shows a steady decline in reading skills among first-, second- and third-graders and those enrolled in kindergarten.

A January 2021 literacy update from the Louisiana Education Department shows a steady decline in reading skills among the state's first-, second- and third-graders and kindergarten students.
A January 2021 literacy update from the Louisiana Education Department shows a steady decline in reading skills among the state's first-, second- and third-graders and kindergarten students. (Source: Louisiana Believes)

The early stages of elementary school are some of the most integral for student learning, according to the study. Louisiana Education Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley agrees.

“Research will show that students who are not at reading level by the end of third grade are three or four times more likely to be high school dropouts,” he explained. “We also know that about 80% of people who are in prison today across the country don’t have a high school degree.”

Reading skills steadily declining among Louisiana’s younger students, report shows

When asked how the state intends to address the trend, Dr. Brumley told KSLA News 12:

“Our agency is working alongside stakeholders throughout the state to develop a comprehensive statewide literacy plan. I think that’s really important; and I know that we can’t do it alone. It’s going to take people from across the state, in terms of resources, human capital, their time so that we can do better for our kids. Our kids in Louisiana are just as capable as kids everywhere in this country.”

The education department has no date set for implementing such a plan. However, the Louisiana Early Literacy Commission, which was established in 2019, recommends an annual $15 million investment from the state. It says the money would help increase the number of literacy coaches throughout the school system.

In the study, the commission also included these recommendations:

  • Every teacher uses a high-quality curriculum to teach students the foundations of reading and language and literacy.
  • Every student who struggles to read receives timely research-based literacy interventions.
  • Every school has a culture in which all teachers are responsible for and equipped to deliver effective literacy instruction.
  • Every school leader maximizes the use of time and personnel through scheduling and collaborative planning.
  • Every teacher effectively uses evidence-based practices to meet the literacy needs of all students.
  • Every educator preparation program emphasizes evidence-based literacy practices.
  • Every school system implements a comprehensive literacy assessment plan that includes valid and reliable assessment tools used for different purposes at different times during the school year.
  • Every teacher uses literacy assessment data to monitor students’ progress and inform instruction.
  • Every school community expands opportunities for parents and families to be engaged in their children’s literacy development.

Dr. Brumley also noted the importance of an involved family at home and introducing young children to reading before they get to kindergarten.

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