New Legislation Would Mandate Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction Across California

The literacy wars entered a new chapter Wednesday with the introduction of Assembly Bill 2222, authored by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). The legislation would make “the science of reading” – with its emphasis on phonics and evidence-based instruction – the standard for all school districts in the state. Its passage would mark an end to the current patchwork of literacy instruction.

The bill is cosponsored by EdVoiceDecoding Dyslexia CA, and Families in Schools, which have long argued for evidenced-based literacy teaching in schools.

“I can tell you right then and there if a kid doesn’t know phonics in the fourth grade, we screwed them up somewhere,” said Rubio, who has taught elementary students. “If they’re not reading in the third grade, they may never recover.”

The data is grim. Just 43% of the state’s third graders are meeting state reading standards. Among Black and Hispanic students, the percentages are even lower at 27.2% and 32%.

There are concerns about the bill’s infringement on local control.

“There’s always this delicate balance between local control versus let’s move forward collectively,” Marshall Tuck, CEO of EdVoice, told EdSource. “But when we have an issue that the vast majority of lower-income kids, who are disproportionately black and Latino, are not reading at grade level, it requires urgency to do what we know works as fast as possible.”


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