Administration’s Third Attempt to Eliminate Comprehensive Literacy Program

WASHINGTON, DC—Advocates for Literacy, a coalition of over 60 organizations focused on increasing the federal commitment to improve literacy instruction through evidenced-based practices, strongly opposes the elimination of the $190 million Literacy for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) program—referred to as Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants—in the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal.

Creating a globally competent workforce depends on students acquiring reading and writing skills that enable them to develop important abilities in such areas as math, science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. Despite the fundamental importance of reading and writing, only 35 percent of fourth-grade students, 35 percent of eighth-grade students, and 37 percent of twelfth-grade students performed at or above the proficient level on the reading assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – the Nation’s Report Card.[i] Furthermore, significant gaps in the average scores between student groups remain unchanged for many of the nation’s neediest populations.Research clearly demonstrates that a high-quality, literacy-rich environment beginning in early childhood is one of the most important factors in determining school readiness and success, high school graduation, college access and success, and workforce readiness.

The Advocates for Literacy coalition believes that literacy is a critical component of job readiness, and it is essential that all American students graduate with the literacy skills they need to be successful in the workplace. A strong federal commitment to literacy is imperative. The Coalition believes the Administration’s budget missed an important opportunity to support students and the economy.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was established to ensure that all students have equitable access to a quality education and to narrow achievement gaps; high-quality reading and writing instruction are foundational components of a quality education. LEARN supports states in a comprehensive, systemic approach to strengthen evidenced-based literacy and early literacy instruction for children from early learning through high school and supports district capacity to accelerate reading and writing achievement for all students. Additionally, LEARN is the only funding stream that helps states and districts support high-quality professional development for teachers, librarians, principals, specialized instructional support personnel, and other educators to improve literacy instruction for struggling readers and writers, including English learners and students with disabilities.

A strong federal commitment to literacy is imperative to ensure a strong economy and national defense. We believe the administration’s budget misses the mark to invest in our nation’s future.

About Advocates for Literacy

Advocates for Literacy is a coalition of over 60 organizations that supports improved literacy instruction through comprehensive, birth through grade twelve state-led literacy plans that target struggling and economically-disadvantaged students with low-performing English language arts assessment scores. Members include:

Academic Language Therapy Association
Advocacy Institute
Alliance for Excellent Education
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
American Federation of Teachers
American Occupational Therapy Association
Association on Higher Education and Disability
Association for Middle Level Education
Council of Administrators of Special Education
Council for Exceptional Children
Center for the Collaborative Classroom
Education Northwest
Early Care and Education Consortium
Every Child Reading
First Five Year Fund
First Focus Campaign for Children
Grimes Reading Institute
Higher Education Consortium
HighScope Educational Research Foundation
Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters
Institute for Educational Leadership
International Dyslexia Association
International Literacy Association
Keys to Literacy
Knowledge Alliance
Learning Ally
Learning Disabilities Association of America
Literacy How, Inc.
National Adolescent Literacy Coalition
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of State Boards of Education
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Black Child Development Institute
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Families Learning
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Council of Teachers of English
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Down Syndrome Society
National Education Association
National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform
National Rural Education Association
National Urban Alliance for Effective Education
National Women’s Law Center
National Writing Project
Parents as Teachers
Reading Partners
Reading Recovery Council of North America
Scholastic Inc.
School Social Work Association of America
Teach Plus
TESOL International Association
The Arc
United Way Worldwide

[i] Fourth and eighth grade reading scores come from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and twelfth grade reading scores come from the 2015 NAEP.