SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has adopted the Illinois Comprehensive Literacy Plan, a roadmap to enhance and unify core literacy instruction efforts statewide. The plan, required by Public Act 103-0402, is the result of extensive engagement with educators and stakeholders across the state and a wide range of community members interested in and affected by the final plan.
The plan does not advocate for any new mandates. Rather, it provides guidance to districts to examine their own data, curricula, and instructional practices for alignment to evidence-based best practices and to make shifts to support students. The plan outlines necessary supports and resources for literacy reform to ensure all students receive developmentally appropriate and evidence-based literacy instruction.
“We have collaborated to develop a plan that stands apart and is designed to be utilized by practitioners to take stock of their practices and evaluate their alignment to evidence,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders. “We have a moral imperative to ensure all students develop strong literacy skills. This plan takes a big stride toward fulfilling that promise. I thank and celebrate everyone who worked on the Illinois Comprehensive Literacy Plan and look forward to the work ahead.”
The plan is designed to be interactive with workbook-style pages and reading guides for various audiences.
ISBE's next steps for implementing the plan include the development of a rubric by which districts can evaluate their literacy curricula; a template to support districts when developing comprehensive, districtwide literacy plans; and guidance on evidence-based practices for effective structures for training and deploying literacy coaches.
ISBE also adopted its 2024-2027 Strategic Plan at its Board meeting on Wednesday. It includes additional objectives to work with institutions of higher education to strengthen how Illinois prepares aspiring teachers in educator preparation programs with what they need to understand and implement effective literacy instruction practices. Specifically, ISBE will collaborate with institutions of higher education to form Communities of Practice promoting effective literacy instruction for teacher candidates. ISBE also will conduct a program evaluation to determine the extent to which instruction in educator preparation programs aligns to literacy preparation standards and the Illinois Comprehensive Literacy Plan. To support this evaluation, teacher candidates will report the score of the literacy portion of their content test back to their program for the program to report to ISBE through the Illinois Educator Preparation Profiles.
The Illinois Comprehensive Literacy Plan:
- Identifies the importance of the seven components of literacy, which offer a comprehensive overview of developmentally appropriate practices: oracy, phonological awareness, word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.
- Provides a deeper understanding of the seven components of literacy at varying grade spans (young learners, elementary, middle grades, and high school) and for specific student groups (multilingual learners, advanced learners, and learners with specialized needs).
- Identifies considerations for assessment and intervention, as well as evidence-based core instructional practices that are in alignment or not in alignment with the plan.
- Follows the Every Student Succeeds Act, endorsing instructional practices based on the Tiers of Evidence framework that are aligned with evidence and best practices. Educators are encouraged to understand these tiers thoroughly and implement the most effective methods for the students for whom the approaches were designed.
- Affirms the importance of dedicated English language development, cross-language connections, and dual language programming. Dual language programming integrates instruction in both English and the students’ native languages. These programs are characterized by a balance in the use of two languages for instructional purposes, offering an immersive bilingual environment, through which students gain the ability to navigate and express themselves in both languages with equal proficiency.
The journey to the final plan began when ISBE hosted a Literacy Summit in October 2022 to gather initial perspectives of diverse stakeholders. The summit sought to better understand the supports and resources needed to ensure that all Illinois students have access to and are effectively supported in literacy development. ISBE launched a statewide feedback campaign with focus groups, in-person and virtual listening sessions all across the state, and an online comment form to allow feedback on the plan drafts.