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Virginia Literacy Act

Overview

The Virginia Literacy Act legislation, passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2022 to improve literacy outcomes for Virginia’s learners, goes into effect in the coming 2024-2025 school year in coordination with subsection G of § 22.1-253.13:2 of the Code of Virginia. ACPS has been working to continuously improve its literacy instruction to align with the requirements of this legislation and the latest reading research.  Here are some key requirements of the Virginia Literacy Act:

  1. Programs/Resources: “a program of literacy instruction that is aligned with science-based reading research and provides evidence-based literacy instruction to students in kindergarten through grade eight.”
  2. Reading Specialists Ratio: One reading specialist per every 550 students division-wide in Grades K-5
  3. Student Reading Plan (SRP): “Students will receive evidence-based instruction and intervention, as outlined in an individualized student reading plan, if they do not meet literacy benchmarks.”
  4. Division Literacy Plan (DLP): “The division-wide comprehensive plan shall also include a division-wide literacy plan for pre-K through grade 8.”
  5. VDOE Virginia Literacy Act (VLA) Webpage
ACPS' Literacy Strategic Focus Journey: K-2 literacy task force formed 2019; reading&writing core instruction K-5 in 2023-24

SY 2019–21: formation of K-2 literacy task force
SY 2021-22: implementation of Really Great Reading Phonics Grades K-2
2023: Virginia Literacy Act K-3 becomes VDOE policy
SY 2022-23 Collaboration with University of Delaware Reading & Writing Core Instructional Resource Grades 3-5
2024: Virginia Literacy Act Grades 4-8 becomes VDOE policy
SY 2023-24: Implemenation of Bookworms Reading & Writing Core Instructional Resource Grades K-5

The Science of Reading

From the VDOE:

What is the Science of Reading?

There is over 50 years of research from a variety of career fields that support how the brain learns to read and speak and how we should be taught. More recently the connection between these fields of research has become more apparent and talked about in educational settings. 

Science of reading. A term that refers to a corpus of objective investigation and accumulation of reliable evidence about how humans learn to read and how reading should be taught.

As reported in the National Reading Panel and later recognized in CCSSO’s A Nation of Readers report, additional research has shown the significant impact of instruction that explicitly addresses all five pillars of reading.

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
Diagram shows how language comprehension and word recognition combine to form skilled reading

Division Literacy Plan 

ACPS is currently engaging diverse stakeholder groups in cycles of input and feedback to finalize the creation of its Division Literacy Plan. The Division Literacy Plan will include the following components:

  • High-Quality Instructional Material Selection (HQIM)
  • Virginia Literacy Act Evidence-Based Reading Research Training
  • Monitoring Student Assessment and Progress
  • Assessing Division Level Progress
  • Engaging Parents, Caregivers, and Community

Evidence-based Literacy Resources

Teachers utilize core, supplemental, and intervention literacy instructional resources that have been approved by the VDOE in alignment with science-based reading research and are identified as High Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM). 

At the elementary level, core and intervention resources include Bookworms Reading & Writing (K-5) and Really Great Reading (K-2). At the secondary level, intervention resources include Read 180. 

Reading Specialists 

ACPS staffs at least one reading specialist for every 550 students in Kindergarten–Grade 3 throughout the division.

Student Reading Plans 

Divisions will develop, implement, and monitor Student Reading Plans for students in Kindergarten through Grade 3 beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. Students who are identified as high-risk on VALLSS (Virginia Assessment of Language & Literacy Skills Screener) will require a Student Reading Plan. Their intervention services “shall consist of evidence-based literacy instruction, align with science-based reading research, and be documented for each student in a written student reading plan.”  (§ 22.1-253.13:1 G)

Required Professional Development 

As part of the VLA, K-8 educators are required to receive training in evidence-based literacy instruction aligned to science-based reading research. 

In 2023, the VLA was expanded from the original requirements of training for elementary school teachers, elementary school principals, reading specialists, and special education teachers to include training for EL teachers, middle school teachers, and middle school principals. 

VDOE contracted with the University of Virginia (UVA) to design, develop, and facilitate a statewide, knowledge-based professional development training at no cost for Virginia educators. As part of this training, Canvas courses designed for different audiences are being offered beginning June 2024. The courses will focus on building a strong literacy knowledge base on key topics but also will focus on the application of instructional practice in the classroom.  

Contact Us

Elementary Literacy - Dr. Carolyn Wooster, carolyn.wooster@acps.k12.va.us

K-12 Literacy Coordinator & Secondary Literacy Instructional Specialist- Ms. Kimberly Schell, kimberly.schell@acps.k12.va.us

Important Links