Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 17, 2021

Sen. Bo Watson presents inaugural Literacy Summit

District 11 Sen. Bo Watson last week presented the inaugural Literacy Summit as part of his effort to promote literacy in early childhood education.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, State Collaborative on Reforming Education President and CEO David Mansouri, Tennesseans for Quality Early Education President and CEO Blair Taylor and Hamilton County Interim Superintendent Dr. Nakia Towns joined Watson for the panel discussion.

The conversation explored how Tennessee, Hamilton County and other stakeholders can achieve better literacy outcomes.

“Students who are not reading on grade level by third grade are unlikely to ever catch up, making it clear that prioritizing literacy in early childhood is critical and has a tremendous impact on the future success of the next generation,” Watson said.

The summit took place weeks after Tennessee standardized test scores revealed a marked decline in each grade level. In Hamilton County, literacy scores for second graders dropped 11 percentage points compared to 2019.

In addition to featured panelists, several stakeholders engaged in promoting literacy participated in the event. Attendees included state, county and city elected officials, civic organizations and higher learning institutions as well as members of the community.

“Now that Tennessee has a strong set of policies to improve early literacy, the next step is implementing those policies well,” Mansouri said.

“With 68% of Tennessee’s third graders now below proficient, the situation is urgent for all student groups, but especially for economically disadvantaged students and children of color,” Taylor added. “We can fix this, but we know skills and performance gaps take root long before third grade and are tied to opportunity gaps.”

Summit participants also reviewed and discussed the Hamilton County Schools Foundational Literacy Skills Plan and the Tennessee Department of Education’s Foundational Literacy Skills Plan Toolkit.

Source: Bo Watson