HARRISBURG – A bill to change how Pennsylvania students are taught to read was approved by the Senate Education Committee today by a unanimous, bipartisan vote, 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. We cannot afford to fail our children in this regard.”
Senate Bill 801, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), would create a screening process to identify struggling readers and implement plans to prevent children from falling behind.
PSSA scores for third graders last year show that almost half of Pennsylvania students are not proficient in reading.
During a public hearing last year that reviewed Senate Bill 801, Dr. Wendy Farone, with 30 years of experience in literacy education, noted that we need to stop spending money on education programs that don’t produce good outcomes for our students.
Argall called last year’s public hearing after reading an article by the New York Times about how Mississippi successfully improved its education system without massive spending increases, after many years of ranking among the worst educated states in the nation.
After aggressively implementing similar reforms, 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, all while spending the fifth-least per student in the nation.
The bill now advances to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Jim Brugger, 717-787-2637