Tennessee Equips Thousands of Teachers and Families with Free Reading Training, Supports and Resources

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 | 01:18pm


Statewide Focus on Boosting Literacy Outcomes for Students; New Blog to Highlight Districts’, Educators’, and Families’ Efforts

Nashville, TN- Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the state has equipped thousands of Tennessee teachers and families with free early literacy resources through a series of supports as part of the state’s continued focus on early literacy through the Reading 360 initiative: the two-week Early Reading Training for teachers, Early Literacy Network for school districts, At-Home Decodable Book Series for parents and a new blog.

Tennesseans are putting an emphasis on early literacy through this statewide approach. Over 11,750 Tennessee teachers representing 122 districts signed up for the two-week Early Reading Training; 94 districts are participating in the Early Literacy Network; and over 40,000 orders have been placed for the free At-Home Decodable Book Series.

Additionally, the department will be highlighting Tennessee school district, educator, family, and community partner voices through the new Reading 360 blog, emphasizing our shared commitment to improving Tennessee’s literacy outcomes for our early learners. Access the blog here.

Reading 360 is a comprehensive statewide literacy approach to provide optional grants and resources to help more Tennessee students develop strong phonics-based reading skills.

“It’s incredible to see our districts, educators, families, and communities come together to help our children master foundational literacy skills being taught at school and at home,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Reading proficiently is the building block of a quality education, and I am so thankful for and proud of Tennessee’s commitment to early literacy and recognizing the responsibility we all have to this essential work.”

With 11,750 Tennessee kindergarten through 5th grade, special education, and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers registered for the two-week Early Reading Training, thousands of Tennessee teachers will be equipped with the latest research, implications for instruction, and practical tools on how to apply new learning around early literacy. 

Teachers participating will receive a $1,000 stipend upon completion of the two-week training, and K –2nd grade teachers will receive “classroom kits” of fun and engaging decodables to utilize in their classrooms.

The Week One training is now available as an online, asynchronous learning experience through Best for All Central and focuses on sounds first literacy training, with over 3,600 Tennessee teachers having already completed the training. Week Two training focuses on how to effectively use resources to teach foundational literacy and is being offered in-person over the course of the summer, with the first training beginning Monday, May 24th. Click here for the Early Reading Training Course Overview.

Of the 122 districts participating in Early Reading Training, 94 were selected to participate in the statewide Early Literacy Network. These districts were selected through a grant application to put the work of the Early Reading Training into action over the next two school years. Awarded districts will receive $40,000 per year totaling $80,000 over two years to fund pre-K through 2nd-grade literacy coaching support provided by a state-approved implementation support vendor.  

District and school leaders, educators, and elected officials have commented on the benefits of the Reading 360 initiative, including the Early Reading Training and At-Home Decodable Book Series:

“Tennessee’s Department of Education’s continued focus on reading literacy is vital to the continued success of Tennessee Students.  Reading opens the world to a child and offers hope for a bright future.” – House Education Administration Committee Chairman Mark White

“I’m so grateful that we have Reading 360 and that the state of Tennessee understands the need for a program like this... It’s working. You will see changes in your classroom, students having conversation at such a young age about vocabulary, making connections.” – Lauren Wilson, Assistant Principal, Jack Anderson Elementary, Sumner County Schools

“This is very good news as we reach a new milestone that will have lifelong benefits for Tennessee students.  High-quality reading programs and teacher preparation are essential to ensuring a pipeline of learners who stay in school and achieve educational success.  I look forward to seeing great student progress moving forward as a result of these efforts.” – Senate Education Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey

“I am super excited about the summer reading program because now that my teachers see that this works, like we’re almost 100% there of them wanting to learn more about this and just seeing where it’s going to take our students in the next few years.” – Angie Roberson, ELA & Math Coach, Big Ridge Elementary, Union County Schools 

“Tennessee remains laser focused on literacy. The efforts being made to put books in parents' hands and teacher training will move our state to be educational leaders in our country. All the hard work we are putting in now will lead to more literate students in the future.” – House Education Instruction Subcommittee Chairman Scott Cepicky

"They are more aware of sounds and can pull them out more quickly. You can tell they are more comfortable and confident." – Shannon Mull, Pre-K Teacher, Byars Dowdy Elementary, Lebanon Special School District

Components of Reading 360 including the At-Home Decodable Book series are funded with federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funding.

Nearly 45,000 orders have been placed for the free At-Home Decodable Book Series, which contain exciting stories full of sounds and words to help Tennessee families of kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade children practice phonics and develop strong reading skills. Tennessee families can order one booklet pack for each of their kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade students using this order form.

Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade teachers participating this summer in the Reading 360 Early Literacy Training program will receive decodable booklet packs for their K-2nd grade classrooms for free.  These decodables will help create strong home-school connections for families who have chosen to order the At-Home Decodable Reading Series booklet packs. Please contact TN.decodables@tn.gov to learn more about how to help your students access these free resources.

Tennessee families and teachers are encouraged to share fun and exciting reading moments using these and other reading resources on social media. Join in by using the hashtags #TNDecodables, #Reading360 or #ReadTogetherTN. 

To access additional resources on Reading 360, click here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.