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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #22-16
March 10, 2022
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Reaffirms Commitment to Literacy Programs to Drive Learning Recovery and Announces Support of Literacy Legislation

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and partners are redoubling efforts to help students recover and expand literacy skills amidst national reports showing declines in student reading levels during the pandemic.

“Reading is a gateway skill. When children learn to read, they can read to learn anything,” said Thurmond. “We also know that when students don’t learn to read by third grade, they are at greater risk to drop out of school, and they are at greater risk to end up in the criminal justice system. We are committed in our work to support learning recovery of our students and are making every effort to strengthen literacy programs in our state.”

Last September, Thurmond launched an initiative to ensure students learn to read by third grade by 2026. In order to advance this goal, Thurmond pledged to secure one million book donations for students in need.Through a partnership with Renaissance Learning, Inc., students downloaded more than five million free online books as part of the literacy efforts.

Thurmond has also pledged to help secure passage of resources in the proposed state budget that would provide reading specialists and coaches for California students in need. He is planning to host town hall meetings and convenings with school leaders, literacy experts, advocates, parents, and students to highlight the value that reading specialists and coaches can bring to support students who struggle in reading.

In addition, Thurmond and the California Department of Education are sponsoring key legislation that would expand literacy programs to fund home visits to help families reach literacy goals (Assembly Bill 2465-Bonta), to help existing schools convert to dual language immersion programs (Senate Bill 952-Limón), and to expand Freedom School programs (Assembly Bill 2498-Bonta)—evidence-based Afrocentric literacy programs that have been shown to help students improve their reading by one to two grade levels in as little as six weeks.

State Superintendent Thurmond is planning to work with community libraries as well to expand student library memberships and access as part of the strategy to promote literacy in the state. Anyone wishing to support these literacy efforts or the initiative to ensure that students learn to read by third grade may email

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, March 10, 2022
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