by T.A. DeFeo

 

A bipartisan Georgia House committee will study state programs providing literacy instruction to Georgians and determine whether low literacy impacts the state’s competitiveness.

The House Study Committee on Literacy Instruction, established by¬†House Resolution 650, will explore potential changes to the state’s educational standards. It will also determine “the definition of evidence-based literacy instruction.”

“A child’s ability to read is pivotal to their academic success, but the pandemic’s lasting effects continue to plague Georgia’s reading levels,” state Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, said in an announcement. Dubnik is chairman of the House Education Committee and will chair the study committee.

The group will offer policy and legislative recommendations to help expand literacy programs and improve coordination among the various offerings. Lawmakers will consider the recommended changes when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

According to HR 650, in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, only one-third of the state’s fourth graders were reading at or above “proficient levels” per the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Lawmakers said 45% of Georgia’s workforce is at risk of unemployment, and workers need to upgrade their skills to meet the changing demands.

“Georgia’s troubling literacy rates have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and we are still finding out how much it has impacted students,” state Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D-Stockbridge, said in an announcement. “I look forward to developing policy recommendations that will bring new evidence-based literacy instruction into Georgia classrooms.”

The committee will wrap up its work by Dec. 1.

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T.A. DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.