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Pennsylvania’s New Budget Increases Support for Struggling Readers

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Written by
Voyager Sopris Learning
Updated on March 4, 2024

Pennsylvania’s Governor Josh Shapiro’s first budget includes more than $700 million in new funding for K–12 education, for a total investment of more than $10 billion. This budget includes money for basic education and special education among other specific allocations. The $50 million of new funding for special education reinforces the state’s commitment to equitable education for all students, even those from underfunded areas of the state so that all students are future-ready when they finish 12th grade.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education embraces comprehensive, research-based literacy instruction that supports teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Educators clearly understand the importance of grade-level literacy skills so students can learn academic content across curriculum areas. 

The statewide literacy plan provides guidance on an “integrated, aligned, and comprehensive set of literacy experiences for students.” Many of Pennsylvania’s new literacy requirements were built from the science of reading. The state’s Structured Literacy competencies and standards were adapted from the Knowledge and Practice Standards of Teachers of Reading (2018), and used with permission from the International Dyslexia Association®

According to experts, all students, not just students with dyslexia and other language-based disabilities, benefit from Structured Literacy’s systematic and explicit reading instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. It is not assumed students will grasp these concepts on their own. Literacy requires intentional instruction for each step with continuous interaction between teacher and student.

Structured Literacy training is required for all preK–4, special education, and English Learner instructors with an emphasis on foundational skills so all students can become successful readers, writers, and speakers. Research indicates that 95 percent to 98 percent of all students can learn to read with effective core classroom instruction and supplemental tiered interventions.

Curriculum-Supported Interventions

However, there are always students who need additional help to achieve fluency and proficiency. For adolescent students who struggle with foundational reading and writing skills, there are proven interventions based on rigorous science that can be used in Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) or Response to Intervention (RtI) settings—Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. 

  • LANGUAGE! Live® is an intensive literacy intervention for students in grades 5–12. Specifically designed for adolescent readers with high-interest texts and age-appropriate content, LANGUAGE Live is based on the science of reading and blends teacher-guided instruction with independent online practice. LANGUAGE! Live’s instruction reinforces the foundational skills students need for success while using authentic text to engage and accelerate their learning to grade-level proficiency.

  • REWARDS® is a series of short-term reading and writing intervention solutions for students in grades 4–12. This suite of interventions is designed for students who struggle reading multisyllabic words and comprehending content-area text. REWARDS increases student success in content-area classes where advanced reading skills are needed to understand concepts and context. It improves student fluency, vocabulary knowledge, and comprehension skills.

These solutions provide instruction following the Structured Literacy approach in middle and high school classrooms. With proven instruction and intervention, nearly all students can learn to read, write, and speak proficiently.