New Literacy Competencies for Pennsylvania Educators

readingImage by Jill Wellington

PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently announced that it has developed new educator competencies to increase literacy.

The competencies identify the knowledge and skills educators need to effectively teach reading based on current research. This is a significant development, as literacy is essential for individuals to thrive. PDE will provide structured literacy supports, along with professional development and training, to educators who hold instructional certificates in early childhood education, elementary-middle level, PK-12 Special Education, English as a Second Language, and Reading Specialist.

This initiative is part of PDE’s commitment to improving literacy in Pennsylvania and ensuring all students have the necessary reading skills for success. In order to be an effective reader, one must master several different skills. This is the focus of structured literacy, which emphasizes five key components: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. By ensuring that all students receive training in these areas, Pennsylvania is taking a major step forward in improving reading proficiency among its citizens.

The new amendments to the Pennsylvania School Code mandating professional development in structured literacy will go a long way toward ensuring that all educators are prepared to provide high-quality instruction in this vital skill. In addition, by requiring that all educator preparation programs integrate the competencies and standards of structured literacy, Pennsylvania is ensuring that future generations of students will have the skills they need to succeed.

Structured literacy provides a strong core of foundational skills in the language systems of English; integrates listening, speaking, reading, spelling, and writing; and emphasizes the structure of language across the speech sound system, the writing system, the structure of sentences, the meaningful parts of words, the relationship among words and the organization of spoken and written discourse.

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Literacy instruction focuses on decoding — the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce written words. This helps learners recognize familiar words quickly and figure out new words. Structured literacy instruction ensures that all students have access to effective reading instruction.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website.

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