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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Assembly approves Rep. O’Brien’s legislation that amends the ‘Right to Read Act’
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation (
) sponsored by Rep. William W. O’Brien which amends the Right to Read Act by extending the time table of the legislation by two academic years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Right to Read Act addressed the issue of too many of our children, especially those with dyslexia, being unable to read at their grade level, leaving them behind in the educational process. But, as with so many other aspects of our lives, the pandemic has upended the act’s timetable, so this bill will give our educators more time to come into compliance with the Right to Read Act. A child’s ability to read is the bedrock of our educational system and this amendment will further our ability to properly educate our students, especially those with difficulties in reading and learning,” said Representative O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence).
The act, passed in 2019 and also sponsored by Representative O’Brien, requires certain licensed public school teachers to be proficient in scientific and structured literacy reading instruction. It also requires all other licensed teachers to have a cursory knowledge of scientific and structured literacy reading instruction. Scientific and structured literacy reading instruction has proven extremely useful in the education of students with dyslexia and other related conditions.
Scientific and structured literacy reading instruction is the teaching of how sounds relate to letters and words during reading instruction. It is based upon research regarding how the brain works while learning spoken and written language with an emphasis on phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, orthographic awareness, and comprehension strategies.
Currently, teachers are required to demonstrate a proficiency of scientific reading and structured literacy instruction by the 2023-2024 school year. Representative O’Brien’s bill extends this time period to the 2025-2026 academic year. The bill also requires all new hires for a teaching position to demonstrate an awareness and proficiency in the knowledge and practices of scientific reading instruction and a structured literacy instruction.
A teacher would be able to demonstrate their proficiency by:
Possessing a Master’s degree in reading;
Possessing a reading specialist and/or consultant certificate;
Providing proof of completion of a course or training program in scientific reading instruction consisting of at least 30 hours; or
Passing a test in scientific readings and structured literacy instruction.
The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request