Nearly 100 Districts Recognized as
“Reading 360” Districts for Commitment to Early Literacy
Including Cannon County Schools
NASHVILLE: The Tennessee Department of Education announced that the state is celebrating Tennessee Literacy Month throughout the month of March, highlighting how Tennessee’s educators, families, and community partners are focusing on improving literacy experiences for early learners through strategic investments and optional, free resources. The department announced that 99 districts have been recognized as Reading 360 Districts for their commitment to teacher training, leader support networks, and focused work on early literacy.
Tennessee has prioritized academic gains for students over the past decade, and most recently in the K-12 recovery and student acceleration response to COVID-19. In January 2020, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Literacy Success Act in the special session. This act laid a policy foundation for literacy in state for educators, school districts, universities and communities to focus on improving literacy opportunities and ensure every student builds strong reading skills grounded in phonics.
Governor Bill Lee proclaimed March of 2022 as “Tennessee Literacy Month,” and throughout March, the Tennessee Department of Education is highlighting how reading is for all students. The department will be sharing announcements and highlighting work happening around Reading 360, the state’s comprehensive literacy initiative. Using the hashtag #TNReadingForALL and #ReadLikeRiley, Tennesseans can engage on social media throughout the month to learn about at-home resources, engage in why they support literacy, and learn about why Riley the Reading Raccoon loves reading.
“In Tennessee, we recognize the importance of ensuring all our students are reading on grade level by third grade. Our educators, families, elected officials and communities are all committed and working incredibly hard to ensure more Tennessee students have access to positive experiences with learning to read so each student can take the love of reading and learning with them throughout their lives,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “During March Literacy Month, I hope all Tennesseans will help us celebrate by opening your books and keeping on reading!”
The department will be visiting several Reading 360 Districts through March to see the literacy work in-action, unveil a Reading 360 banner, and celebrate the hard work and emphasis on literacy instruction in the district. During district events, the department will also host family reading events with Riley the Reading Racoon, delivering “decodables” from the At-Home Decodable Book Series to kindergarten – second grade families and “Getting Reading to Read” backpacks to pre-kindergarten families.
“Cannon County Schools realizes that the strongest foundation for students is becoming excellent readers,” said William Freddy Curtis, Director of Schools, Cannon County Schools. “For the past several years there has been much emphasis on reading and literacy with our lower grade students and rightly so! Our Cannon County teachers and administrators have invested in using high-quality instructional materials to support our literacy instruction with our students that drive their background knowledge with an emphasis on the foundational skills of reading. This has enabled our students as better readers to comprehend which leads to a higher-level of learning. This is key as reading unlocks the path for the journey of learning and success in all areas. We are incredibly honored that Cannon County Schools is recognized as a ‘Reading 360 District’ and the great work our teachers and leaders do every day.”
The department will launch this summer’s Early Reading Training and Secondary Literacy Training, providing the opportunity for up to 15,000 more kindergarten – twelfth grade teachers to learn more about literacy instruction. Last summer, 10,000 educators completed the Early Reading Training, a 60-hour course in foundational literacy instruction.
“I am so excited for Cannon County to be recognized as a Reading 360 district,” said Dr. Marcia Melton, Cannon County Schools, Supervisor of Instruction. “Our teachers have selected a new reading curriculum and 42 teachers completed the Early Reading Course last year to ensure our students have the best reading instruction possible. Successful early reading is the foundation to all other learning!”
Throughout March Literacy Month, the department will share resources and strategies to support at-home literacy engagement. These resources will support families with ways to engage in S.I.M.P.L.E. Moments at home by playing, modeling, listening, and learning about sounds together. Resources and support will be shared for families with readers of all ages and abilities, birth through eighth grade. Not only will families have access to these tangible resources, but they will also be provided strategies and support needed to use them at home through videos and models.
Many students who struggle with reading display characteristics of dyslexia, which includes difficulty associating sounds with letters and letter patterns, with spelling, and with word reading abilities. Children who struggle with reading also need additional opportunities to practice these newly acquired skills so that they can become more accurate and fluent. Families play a critical role in assisting their children by engaging in similar opportunities to practice reading in the home as in the classroom. The department will release additional resources for districts and families this month to help families support their struggling readers.
“As a person with dyslexia myself and as the mother of a child with dyslexia, I know firsthand how important it is for our schools to teach literacy in a way that is proven to work for all children, including the more than 10% of Tennessee students with dyslexia. Now that Tennessee has shifted its Reading 360 focus on a sounds-first approach that systemically teaches all children how to decode words, I am so hopeful that the next generation of Tennessee children will not struggle like my daughter and I did,” said Anna Thorsen, Parent, Dyslexia Advocate, Member of Dyslexia Advisory Council. “Furthermore, I am thrilled that TISA will specifically include students with characteristics of dyslexia in its weights to help our most struggling readers access the interventions and resources they need. I urge all parents to look at the good work our Department of Education is doing around literacy, to order the free “decodable” books and to refer to the department’s Dyslexia Advisory Council website if your child is struggling with learning to read.”
For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov. For local media inquiries, please contact William Freddy Curtis, Director of Cannon County Schools, at (629) 201-4801, ext. 10101, or at firstname.lastname@example.org for local Cannon County Schools information.