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Georgia Council on Literacy - July 2023 Meeting

Georgia Literacy Council Conducts Organizational Meeting

The Georgia Council on Literacy, created during the 2023 session by SB 211, met for an organizational meeting on Wednesday, July 19. 


SB 211, sponsored by Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro), established the literacy council to set new school district improvement requirements and oversight mechanisms. The council is tasked with reviewing best practices in literacy instruction from other states, working with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and the State Board of Education (SBOE) to implement requirements of early literacy requirements, as well as making recommendations for improving literacy rates among low-income students, minority students, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students, and students with characteristics of dyslexia. 


The council will also:


  • Monitor statewide literacy goals and measures, and provide an annual report to the SBOE

  • Review changes to Georgia’s school funding formula to enhance literacy instruction

  • Review problems related to state literacy outcomes, make recommendations for legislation and appropriations to support improving such outcomes, and annually provide a report of such review to the state leaders

  • Review and make recommendations to align teacher certification with evidence-based literacy instruction and education degree program requirements

  • Review and make recommendations for professional development for Pre-K through third-grade teachers

Council Composition

The 30-member council is composed of legislators and SBOE members as well as seven individuals with knowledge, skills, and experience in literacy or dyslexia education and two individuals with knowledge, skills, and experience in birth to 5-year-old early learning. 


The council is attached to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), which will provide staff support. Miranda Williams, former education policy advisor to Gov. Brian Kemp, has been named as the Georgia Literacy Coach, and former SBOE member Scott Johnson will chair the council.


Council Expected to Provide HB 538 Implementation Recommendations 

The council is expected to provide implementation guidance on a second high-profile literacy bill which also passed during the 2023 session. HB 538, by Rep. Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robins), the Georgia Early Literacy Act, is designed to increase the number of students reading proficiently by the end of third grade. The legislation mandates a number of reforms at the state and local school district level. The Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is directed to ensure childcare providers offer developmentally appropriate evidence-based literacy instruction. The act requires the SBOE to establish a uniform literacy measurement standard, approve a list of reading screeners and high-quality K-3 instructional materials, and adopt a formative reading assessment for students in first and second grades.


GaDOE is tasked with developing or acquiring K-3 teacher training on the science of reading, structured literacy, and foundational literacy skills, which all K-3 Georgia teachers will be required to complete. GaDOE will provide a related annual report. 


HB 538 requires local school districts to approve high-quality K-3 instructional material and administer a universal reading screener three times per year to K-3 students. Districts must provide screening results to parents and GaDOE. The act mandates tiered reading intervention plans for students with significant reading deficiencies. These requirements cannot be waived under districts’ flexibility contracts. 


The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) will revise standards for acquiring and maintaining teacher certification in all teaching fields to include developmentally appropriate evidence-based literacy instruction. GaPSC is tasked with ensuring students completing teacher certification programs have the knowledge and skills to teach reading.


Council Presentation & Upcoming Meetings

The complete presentation shared at the organizational meeting is available HERE


The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 7 in Statesboro. Council meetings are open to the public. PAGE will be in attendance, plans to report on the work of the council, and will continue to connect council members with Georgia education professionals and the students they serve. 


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