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Why Reading 360?

Monday, May 24, 2021 | 03:47pm
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By: Commissioner Penny Schwinn

And we’re off! A Win for Literacy

This month we kicked off our Early Reading Training for Tennessee educators, and we couldn’t be more excited for what it means for literacy across our state!

The Early Reading Training is one of the most ambitious components of Reading 360, the state's comprehensive approach to implementing the Tennessee Literacy Success Act. This historic $100-million initiative represents Tennessee's collective vision for foundational literacy instruction, educator and leader preparation, and high-quality resource distribution.

With Reading 360, Tennessee has an incredible opportunity to demonstrate how smart educational investments can pay off, connecting deep teacher professional learning with student academic achievement. 

Tennessee educators have tirelessly devoted themselves to improving student outcomes. While we’ve seen growth in many areas, our scores in reading have remained unchanged for the last 7 years. Now is the time to focus on early reading.  

It's time to ensure all of our students are grade level readers by third grade. Not hitting third grade literacy proficiency marks makes it harder for our students to catch up and succeed. It's time to become a national leader in early reading development through the Reading 360 initiative and the statewide Early Reading Training for our Pre-K-5 educators.

Why Reading 360? 

More than twenty years of research on what it takes to create strong readers has a common message: sounds-first instruction works to ensure all kids are reading by third grade. Teachers need this information, and we don’t want anything to stand in the way of Tennessee educators being on the cutting edge of research and instruction to provide the best for all our students. 

That is why we've designed the two-week Reading 360 Early Reading Training to be so robust. It begins with a one-week self-paced online course this spring and concludes with a one-week in-person practicum in the summer. Both weeks are free to any educator who supports Pre-K–5 literacy instruction. 

In fact, TDOE just announced that all K–5 classroom teachers, special education teachers, and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers are now eligible to receive $1,000 stipends upon completion of the two-week Early Reading Training. K–2 teachers will also receive phonics kits and materials to use in their classrooms. 

Additionally, families are a huge part of helping raise Tennessee’s literacy scores. We know our parents are our child’s first teachers and that is why we are excited to have just launched the At Home Decodable Book Series! These are free reading resources full of engaging and easy to read stories with words and sounds to practice.

Families can easily read these with their kids right before bed, dinner time or before they go to school.

And the best part? They are completely FREE for all Tennessee families of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders. 

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Looking Ahead

As we look forward to the last weeks of school and set our sights on some of the exciting professional learning work that districts and schools will engage in this summer, I’d like to share how inspired I am regarding the reception that Reading 360 has already received in Tennessee.

We have heard incredibly positive feedback from the many teachers, coaches, and administrators who plan to attend the training. 

Take Hamilton County Schools, for instance. They are an example of the type of enthusiasm we are seeing across the state. They are leveraging the Early Reading Training beyond Pre-K-5 and allowing everyone — from elementary and middle school teachers to instructional coaches and interventionists — to attend, so they can learn and grow both individually during the training and collectively throughout the school year.

We cannot wait to share their stories through this blog and to celebrate the fact that Tennessee's bold approach to support early literacy through Reading 360 is moving our state forward and leading to better outcomes for our students.

I know I speak for all of us at TDOE when I say that we are beyond-grateful for the work our educators do to empower our students every day, and we are truly excited to launch the Early Reading Training.

Learn more about Reading 360 here