06-03-2023  6:41 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 09 February 2023

SALEM, Ore. – This week, members of the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate took action to support the state’s young learners with the introduction of early literacy legislation. Introduced by Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend) along with a bicameral and bipartisan group of legislators, House Bill 3198 establishes the Early Literacy Success Initiative for children in district-sponsored pre-kindergarten through third grade. Reading is a foundational skill with third grade a key turning point in students’ educational trajectory as they go from learning to read to reading to learn.

“Investments in early literacy have the ability to make transformational impacts on our students’ lives. The ability to read is fundamental to the learning process and our kids’ abilities to thrive in school and life,” said Kropf. “As the parent of a school-aged child, it’s incredibly important to me that we fully incorporate best practices into literacy instruction, giving our incredible teachers the tools and support they require to meet student needs. I’m eager to continue working with the many passionate individuals and organizations who have tirelessly worked to bring attention to our state’s literacy crisis and champion reform.” 

Setbacks from Covid

As reported in the 2018-19 academic year, less than half of Oregon third graders were reading at grade level with significant disparities for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and low-income students. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this literacy crisis.  

House Bill 3198 supports literacy coaching for educators, culturally-responsive summer learning opportunities, high-dosage tutoring, and the adoption and implementation of an early literacy curriculum aligned with the science of reading.

“I am a firm believer that the place to catch the children who are the most challenged in reading abilities starts at pre-kindergarten through third grade. These are the ages we identify children with dyslexia and developmental learning disorders,” said co-sponsor and former educator Representative Bobby Levy (R-Echo). “Most importantly, these are the ages where we have the most opportunity to address learning disorders and turn the corner to a successful long term learning life.”

“As a bilingual educator, daughter of Vietnamese refugee parents, and active member of my community, I know this bill will make a huge difference in my district. Investing in early literacy is a gateway to improving a child’s overall educational experience. By centering historically underserved students, including BIPOC and low-income students and rural school districts, we can address disparities so that every student succeeds,” said co-sponsor Representative Hoa Nguyen (D-E Portland & Damascus), who also serves on the David Douglas School Board and as the Student and Community Engagement Specialist at the Clackamas Education Service District. 

Chief sponsors of House Bill 3198 include Rep. Jason Kropf (D), Sen. Michael Dembrow (D), Sen. Janeen Sollman (D), Rep. Hoa Nguyen (D), Rep. Ricki Ruiz (D), and Rep. Ben Bowman (D). Other sponsors are Sen. Mark Meek (D), Sen. Deb Patterson (D), Sen. Suzanne Weber (R), Rep. Paul Evans (D), Rep. Zach Hudson (D), Rep. Bobby Levy (R), and Rep. Emily McIntire (R).

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