Press Releases

Governor Lee Signs Bold Action on Tennessee’s Literacy Crisis into Law

Tennessee Literacy Success Act “makes Tennessee a national leader in proactively addressing the crises facing our students” 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) today released the following statement after Governor Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) signed S.B. 7003, the Tennessee Literacy Success Act into law:

“With the signing of this student-focused measure to improve literacy, Governor Lee’s charge for the legislature to address the pandemic while also forging a new path for our next generation’s success has been paved,” said TSS President & CEO Adam Lister. “While more of that road is left to be built, this bold response by Tennessee’s elected officials is a historic accomplishment that makes our state a national leader in proactively addressing the crises facing our students. We have to continue working hand-in-hand on our shared responsibility to ensure that every child in every district of the state has access to a quality public school.” 

On December 29th, Lee announced a call for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene for a special legislative session around education, citing preliminary pandemic data that projected an estimated 50 percent decrease in third-grade reading proficiency rates – a disruption exacerbating an existing crisis where only one in three Tennessee third graders are reading on grade level.

The Tennessee Literacy Success Act provides support and training for teachers around phonics-based and proven reading instruction and establishes a reading screener to help parents and teachers identify and aid students who are struggling. The legislation overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the legislature – an 84-5 vote in the House and a 25-3 vote in the Senate.

In January, TSS launched TNLitNow, an initiative that reached nearly one million Tennesseans, to solve the literacy crisis and improve outcomes for our students. That initiative included direct legislator engagement, community outreach, and the delivery of books to schools and libraries across the state – focusing on communities with high populations of low-income families.

RELATED: The Tennessean: As Tennessee Lawmakers Meet in a Special Session on Education, They Should Take Bold Action on Literacy.

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