The Office of Commonwealth Libraries Highlights Statewide Literacy Initiatives

LiteracyImage by Gerd Altmann

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL) is raising awareness on the importance of literacy.

“Libraries remain community anchor institutions that play a critical role in supporting education, families, and literacy,” said Glenn R. Miller, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. “Annual events like Families and Reading month and National Library Week help remind people of the important role librarians play in supporting literacy and the opportunities that exist within our libraries that help visitors learn, imagine, and grow.”

To help promote and celebrate Families and Reading Month, the Keystone State Literacy Association offers resources for parents and caregivers that support reading aloud to children, recommended reading lists for youth, and more.

“Children develop a love of stories and poems when they read or are read to on a regular basis,” said Debbie Urso, Keystone State Literacy Association Families and Reading Chair. “These experiences enrich and expand their world and encourage imagination.”

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OCL continues to work diligently to ensure access to technological and educational resources for communities across the commonwealth. Earlier this week, OCL and the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER) announced the Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband Resources project, an initiative to improve access to broadband services in and beyond libraries across the commonwealth’s underserved and unserved communities.

In 2019, PDE released a State Literacy Plan to serve as a framework for school districts and charter schools in developing and implementing their own literacy plans to best support the needs of their students. This includes information to analyze literacy needs and develop a curriculum addressing those needs. Additional professional development is also provided for school leadership personnel. Engaging Pennsylvania’s youngest residents and peaking early interest in literacy and education is one of PDE’s main initiatives​.

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Over the past eight years, PDE and The Center for Assessment have conducted Text-Dependent Analysis (TDA) Exploration studies to understand student performance – specifically reading comprehension, essay writing, and analysis, evaluate teacher TDA training on students, evaluate how TDA professional development influenced instructional strategies and student performance, and verify the accuracy of the TDA Learning Progressions. PDE continues to collaborate with The Center for Assessment to create resources for English language arts teachers.

Most recently, PDE has engaged Intermediate Unit professionals in a multi-year in-depth TDA professional development series, creating a Cadre of Experts who are prepared to provide coherent and systematic training to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across the state. This training includes superintendents, principals, curriculum directors, and teachers to aid in their understanding of TDA and curricular and instructional changes needed to embed this practice into the educational program.

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For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website.

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