052821HAO00648SPRINGFIELD – When students struggle with reading comprehension, they often struggle in other areas of education. To address this issue, Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), Illinois Senate Majority Leader, is sponsoring a measure to increase students' literacy and reading comprehension. 

"Children with strong reading abilities oftentimes have a confident approach to their education," Lightford said. "It’s critical for educators to focus on developing a child’s literacy development within the early stages."

Senate Bill 3900 creates the Right to Read Act in the School Code to help students achieve greater levels of literacy and reading comprehension at an early age through evidence-based literacy instruction. 

Additionally, educators will have additional professional development to ensure those teaching this new curriculum are given the proper tools to help mold our youth. A pilot program will be created to award Early Literacy Grants to districts that commit to comprehensive reform of core literacy curriculum and support for teachers implementing instruction of the new material.

Currently, only 37% of students in the third grade and 35% in the fourth grade met or exceeded learning standards in English Language Arts. Students who are not proficient readers in third grade are four times more likely not to finish high school and six times more likely if they live in a low-income family. Additionally, 85% of juvenile offenders struggle with reading, and 60% of inmates are illiterate. 

"Poor literacy can hurt a student's access to successful career opportunities which may persuade them to low-grade alternatives," Lightford said. "Reading comprehension skills are critical for success and help ensure students are prepared academically and professionally.” 

Senate Bill 3900 passed the Senate Education Committee and now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.