New Efforts to Fight Illiteracy Reviewed by Senate Education Committee

HARRISBURG – Changing how Pennsylvania students are taught to read was reviewed during a public hearing of the Senate Education Committee today, according to Sen. Dave Argall (R-29), who chairs the committee.

“It’s impossible to function in today’s world without being able to read, yet we’re seeing very high rates of illiteracy across Pennsylvania and the nation,” said Argall. “We need to focus on the basics, so all students learn to read as soon as possible.”

PSSA scores for third graders last year show that almost half of Pennsylvania students are not proficient in reading.

Argall called the hearing after reading an article in the New York Times about how Mississippi successfully improved its education system, after many years of ranking among the worst in the nation. Despite ranking 46th in the country in spending per student, Mississippi fourth graders from low-income families are now ranked first in the nation on reading tests according to the National Assessment of Education Progress.

The committee heard testimony from Dr. Megan Gierka, a Reading Specialist from AIM Institute for Learning and Research; Dr. Wendy Farone, a Reading Consultant; Greg Kiehl, the Director of Elementary Education at Donegal School District and Rachael West, the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

During her testimony, Dr. Farone noted that we need to stop spending money on education programs that don’t produce good outcomes for our students.

Senate Bill 801, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36) and Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8), would create a screening process to identify struggling readers and implement plans to prevent children from falling behind.

“The committee will work with Senator Aument to advance Senate Bill 801 soon – Pennsylvania students struggling to read cannot afford to wait,” Argall continued.


CONTACT: Jim Brugger, 717-787-2637

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