State launches new resource to help improve student reading in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee education leaders are launching a new tool they hope can help improve literacy for students statewide.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported only 34 percent of Tennessee students are proficient or advanced readers by the time they hit fourth grade.


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This launch is part of the state’s Reading 360 Initiative to help change those statistics.

The department of education is now offering an At-home Decodable Book Series for families of kindergarten, first, and second grade children. Each free pack has seven decodable booklets with stories that have sounds and words to help kids practice phonics and develop stronger reading skills.

“This is really important because we have all these great instructional materials in our classrooms, but we have to make that connection to home so that parents have the tools they need to also help their students learn to read,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn. “For Reading 360, it is that comprehensive approach and that means it’s not just about schools and districts, but it’s also about families and communities.”

(Courtesy: TN Dept. of Education)

She added that they’re specifically offering this particular resource for younger children. Research shows that students who do not achieve reading proficiency by third grade are more likely to drop out of high school, be incarcerated, or experience poverty when they become adults.

“We wanted to focus on K through two because we know if students have a rock-solid foundation of phonics first, early literacy instruction and support, then they will be able to just take off in third grade and move more into that ‘reading for content’ and ‘reading for interest,” said Dr. Schwinn. “That’s where we want our students to be.”


The state wants parents or guardians to work with children at home. Dr. Schwinn said these booklets give adult readers the guidance on how to focus on sounds when reading aloud with their child, so they have different goals than bedtime stories.


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“This is more about helping students learn how to read on their own and so these decodables are very intentionally created to make sure students know specific sounds they should be working on, specific letter names, ways words come together, sight words and so it’s for parents to be able to sit with their children and work on those same sounds students are also working on in classrooms,” Dr. Schwinn explained.

CLICK HERE to order the free books online and have them sent to your home.

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