Lightford passes measure to develop statewide literacy plan

SPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford passed a measure through the Senate to implement an equitable literacy plan in schools to support the best interests of students.

“Low student literacy is an urgent crisis that has a solution,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “Literacy is critical to social, economic, and health justice, which makes improving literacy outcomes a top public policy priority. Every child deserves access to high-quality reading education.”

Lightford’s measure would require the Illinois State Board of Education to create a comprehensive literacy plan. The plan – which would be due Jan. 31, 2024 – would outline ways to increase research-aligned, developmentally appropriate reading instruction in schools.

Currently, 50% of third grade students in Illinois do not meet or partially meet learning standards for English language arts. Research from the Annie E. Casey Institute found that students who are not proficient readers in third grade are four times more likely not to finish high school. If those students are from low-income families, they are more than six times more likely not to finish high school.

“With the right instruction and support almost every child regardless of ZIP code, race, ethnicity, neurodiversity, home language, or income can learn to read,” said Lightford. “Today’s students who struggle to read are tomorrow’s adults – adults who desperately need literacy to sign a lease agreement, fill out a job application, manage their own health care, support their children’s education, and participate in our democracy.”

Senate Bill 2243 passed Friday and now heads to the House for further consideration.