SPI Hosts Literacy Webinar – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)

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California Department of Education
New release

California Department of Education
New release

Issue: #23-19
March 24, 2023

SACRAMENTO — Tony Thurmond, the state’s superintendent of public education, hosted a virtual webinar on Thursday, March 23 to discuss strategies to help California students read through third grade, and introduce two new directors of statewide literacy for the California Department of Education (CDE), Nancy Brynelson friendship. Bonnie Garcia, who will develop plans to help local educational agencies (LEAs) achieve literacy goals.

“Focusing on literacy and reading comprehension as part of early childhood education is critical in efforts to ensure students are not left behind when it comes to reading and language skills,” said Thurmond. “It’s also key to putting students on the path to graduation and finding success in future jobs. When students don’t learn to read by third grade, they’re more likely to enter the school-to-prison pipeline. We can let that happen.”

The Literacy Development Center oversees a number of literacy programs, including the $37.5 million Comprehensive State Literacy Development Grant, the $250 million Literacy Coaches and Reading Professionals Program grant, the $4 million California Dyslexia Initiative grant, and the Implementation of the English language learner roadmap policy of $5 million, and an early literacy support grant of $50 million.

During the webinar, participants highlighted a number of key strategies and tools that have been shown to help students achieve their literacy goals, including:

  • English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework
  • New Standards Approved by the California Commission on Teacher Accreditation (CTC) for Teacher Training Programs Related to Literacy Education
  • Freedom School® Afrocentric Evidence-Based Literacy Program
  • Basic Literacy Program, which has promoted literacy for students of all backgrounds in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
  • Programs to support learners of English in reaching literacy goals

Among the participants in the webinar was Dr. Haley Job Slowik, Professor Emeritus, California State University (CSU), Fullerton; Barbara Flores, President, California Bilingual Education Association; Dr.. Alisha Moreno Ramirez, Director of Multilingual Support at CDE; Tyrone Howard, Professor, Graduate School of Education and Information, University of California, Los Angeles; Crystal Moore Clemons, National Director of the Freedom Schools, Children’s Defense Fund; Thomas Harvey, Country Director, Children’s Defense Fund; and CDE’s statewide literacy directors, Nancy Brennelson and Dr. Bonnie Garcia.

Prior to coming to CDE, Brynelson served as a Special Literacy Consultant for the CTC and as one of the primary writers for the English Language Arts/English Development Framework. Brennelson was also the co-director of the Center for the Advancement of Literacy in the Chancellor’s Office at CSU. She was also a consulting writer for the National Association for the Advancement of Education’s Reading Framework 2025, and was a CDE education program advisor in the Reading/Language Arts Leadership Office.

Dr. Garcia most recently served as a Program Specialist and Literacy Specialist in the Desert Mountain Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), where she founded the Literacy Improvement Network in SELPA’s 40 school districts. Dr. Garcia has served as a Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Interventionist and is a Fellow of the Orton Gillingham Academy of Practitioners and Educators, through which she has provided structured literacy training to educators that includes training in support of SELPA’s dyslexia initiative.

Prior to the webinar, Thurmond also announced $1 million in grants to local education authorities to expand Freedom School® District Programs across the state. Freedom School®, a program of the Children’s Defense Fund, is an evidence-based African literacy program that has been shown to improve reading levels for students of all backgrounds.

The March 23 webinar is the first of many webinars aimed at providing best practices for school leaders to use in helping their students reach reading through third grade. The webinar is designed to reach classroom teachers, graded staff, administrators, students, families, and school partners involved in efforts to support literacy and learning for California students.

Full registration for the webinar on March 23rd is available at CDE’s Facebook page
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Tony Thurmond – State Superintendent of Public Education
Communications Department, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last revised: Friday, March 24, 2023