Governor highlights literacy efforts

Published 8:18 am Friday, March 5, 2021

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee celebrated Read Across America Day at Paragon Mills Elementary School in Nashville on May 2 and highlighted the administration’s efforts to boost literacy in K-12 schools.

“On this Read Across America Day, we celebrate the potential for every student in Tennessee to be a strong reader and succeed in life beyond the classroom,” said Gov. Lee. “In partnership with members of the General Assembly, superintendents and educators, we have implemented policies that put students first and ensure they are reading on grade-level.”

“Reading is the foundation for all learning, and focusing on developing strong reading skills in a student’s early years is essential for their education and success in life after high school,” said Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am so proud that Tennessee is rightfully prioritizing this critical issue to ensure all of our students can get strong, phonics-based literacy instruction and be prepared for life beyond the classroom.”

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Lee Administration Prioritizes Literacy
Raising Literacy Standards and Introducing Phonics-Based Instruction
Currently, only 1/3 of third graders in Tennessee are reading on grade level, which leads to nearly three out of four students who struggle to read on grade level when they reach high school. To combat this challenge, Gov. Lee introduced a third-grade reading gate and phonics-based instruction, to ensure strong reading skills before the critical third-grade milestone.

Launching the Reading 360 Initiative
Launched in January 2021, Reading 360 tackles Tennessee’s literacy crisis by offering optional grants and resources tailored to the needs of individual districts while providing supports for teachers and families to help students develop strong phonics-based reading skills.

Offering In-Person Learning in Every School District
Data shows that there has been significant learning loss after time away from the classroom. Governor Lee prioritized a plan to get kids back to school safely, and as of March 1st, every school district across the state is offering an in-person learning option.