Senate Education Committee hears innovative program to improve student reading outcomes

Senate Republicans on Wednesday again affirmed their commitment to student literacy by hearing a bill that offers teachers the opportunity to enroll in an innovative training program that has successfully improved student reading outcomes in other states – particularly for students with dyslexia.

The bill provides $1 million for grants to teachers who wish to enroll in the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) instructional program, which provides teachers with the skills needed to master the fundamentals of reading instruction. Those fundamentals include phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and language. LETRS provides comprehensive and consistent content in flexible, online, and face-to-face delivery models to best meet schedule and staff development needs.

“It wasn’t all that long ago that Minnesotans spoke derisively about education in states like Mississippi, but the results are crystal clear,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), who also authored the bill during the 2020 regular session. “Minnesota has fallen behind, but LETRS will get us back on track. It is a proven model that has yielded amazing results, and Minnesota will be much better off for our commitment to this program. 90% student literacy is within our grasp if we are willing to think outside the box.”

LETRS has become the consensus approach to training educators on how to properly teach reading to young students. It is backed by 30 years of scientific research with over a decade of proven success. Ohio, Mississippi, and Alabama are all currently using LETRS as part of efforts to improve reading outcomes.

There are a limited number of educators in Minnesota that have received a grant through the Department of Education to participate in LETRS; Sen. Chamberlain’s bill expands that opportunity to significantly more teachers.