SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today met with the members of his Advisory Council on Literacy to receive their final report on Illinois’ nationally recognized literacy initiatives.
“The Advisory Council on Literacy has acted with creativity and dedication to establish literacy programs throughout the state,” said Governor Ryan. “The contributions of the Council and their partners throughout the state are reflected throughout this document. These accomplishments have enabled Illinois to achieve success within state-led literacy initiatives.”
Governor Ryan created the first Illinois Office on Literacy and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Literacy in 1999, providing the framework to guide Illinois towards developing educational opportunities that enhance literacy.
Illinois has been nationally recognized for its literacy accomplishments, and was awarded the five-star reading award by the International Reading Association. Illinois has been innovative in its approach to Adult Education and Literacy, transferring oversight to the Illinois Community College Board, while maintaining a diverse set of opportunities for learners. Additional commitments have garnered Illinois awards and funding such as Illinois Reads, a statewide initiative to provide reading training for practicing teachers and the development and implementation of effective materials such as reading kits for the primary grades.
“Governor Ryan made literacy a top priority in Illinois. He has championed literacy policies and programs that prepare Illinoisans for the challenges of the 21st Century,” Council Chair Tamara Baloun said. “These programs assist children, adults, and families in their efforts to gain the skills necessary for successful futures. “
As a result of Illinois’ programs and policies, literacy efforts throughout Illinois have become more focused, more beneficial, and more successful for children and adults in the state.
The following points are highlights from the report:
The United States Department of Education recently announced its first-year award of $32.8 million in grants to the state of Illinois. The money, the most the federal government has ever allocated for literacy purposes, will assist schools and school districts in improving children’s reading achievements in grades K-6. In addition, the federal funds will aid professional development programs for state educators working for reading achievement in Illinois. Professional development instruction will be provided through a consortium of the state’s colleges and universities. In total, Illinois will receive $215 million in funds to be distributed over six years for participating in Reading First.
The Summer Bridges program, a collaborative effort between the Office of the Governor and the Illinois State Board of Education, committed $64 million to providing children the opportunity for reading achievement. Summer Bridges aims not only to increase student reading achievement but also to enhance teacher practice. Through 30 hours of professional development prior to and during the summer experience, teachers learn literacy strategies and activities. Curriculum and instruction, which is individualized based on test scores from the beginning of a summer session, engages students through 90 hours of reading and writing exercises. Summer Bridges demonstrates Illinois’ commitment and response to the priorities of reading, professional development, and early childhood education.
The Abraham Lincoln Institute for Literacy in America has been established as a program element of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The Institute will serve the literacy community by providing access to the latest literacy research and practices. The goal is to enhance literacy awareness throughout Illinois, strengthen literacy instruction, and move the recognition of literacy’s importance forward and advance Lincoln’s ideals for education and leadership. Through the Institute, Illinois seeks to be established as the model for literacy in America.
As a result of the Illinois Community College Board’s (ICCB) interaction with Illinois Reads initiatives and their focus on Adult Education and Family Literacy programs throughout the state, over 180,000 adults received over 5.5 million hours of literacy instruction last year. The ICCB proudly reports that more than 180,000 students enroll annually in their literacy programs. The Illinois Family Literacy Consortium works to identify what family literacy needs exist throughout the state, and how state funds, agencies and opportunities may help Illinois adults and children.
English literacy is yet another of Governor Ryan’s literacy commitments. Providing English and civics instruction for non-English speaking adults in Illinois allows for greater access to community services for those requiring assistance. In Governor Ryan’s work with the Department of Corrections, adult and juvenile residents participate in literacy and GED programs, providing them skills for successful futures.
The Governor has worked with the Illinois Office of Banks and Real Estate to identify financial literacy needs for Illinoisans, both adults and children alike. In the Governor’s work with the Office of Banks and Real Estate, ICCB, and others, adults and children are learning financial information—providing knowledge essential for the 21st Century.
Children in Illinois remain important benefactors of Governor Ryan’s programs. In its collaboration with Illinois Reads, the Summer Bridges program has provided educational experiences for at-risk students. Program results indicate that 60% of students tested after program participation improved at least one grade level while in the program. Over 90,000 Illinois Reads Kits have been distributed to schools and child-care providers in Illinois. The Illinois Reading Passport Program, held at the Illinois State Fair, distributed more than 31,000 books to Illinois children.