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April 26, 2002

Illinois Designated as First Five-Star Literacy Program Award Winner

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that Illinois has been designated as the first state to receive the 2000-2001 Five-Star Policy Program Award for literacy from the International Reading Association.

“With literacy as a priority, we have made great strides toward ensuring a skilled workforce and providing children and parents with the tools necessary to become successful readers,” Gov. Ryan said. “As the first state to be recognized as a five-star leader in literacy programming, Illinois will continue its outstanding commitment to literacy and education through Illinois Reads.”

The International Reading Association awarded the five-star rating to Illinois for the creation of Illinois Reads, an initiative to provide statewide reading training for practicing teachers and the development and implementation of effective materials such as reading kits for the primary grades.

“The Five-Star Policy Recognition program recognizes states and provinces who adopt and implement policies that support effective literacy instruction, and who encourage others to work together toward honoring literacy rights for all children.” said Donna Ogle, president of the International Reading Association.

The Five-Star Award was conferred on Illinois for implementing policies and practices supporting the Association’s five star reading rights:

  • Students have the right to be taught reading by certified teachers who have taken two or more courses in the teaching of reading and/or who have demonstrated their proficiencies in the teaching of reading.
  • Students who struggle as readers have the right to receive additional help from qualified reading specialists.
  • Students have a right to access a wide variety of books and other reading materials in the classroom and school library media centers
  • Students have the right to be taught beginning reading through methods chosen on the basis of their needs as learners.
  • Students have the right to reading assessment with multiple methods.

Governor Ryan created a statewide Office of Literacy and the “Illinois Reads” program to better coordinate the various efforts of schools, libraries and community based organizations in order to stress the importance of reading and literacy in the lives of all Illinoisans. Initiatives include eighteen mobile resource and education centers for childcare facilities. Reading kits have also been distributed to 110,000 elementary teachers across the state. The kits are grade specific and designed to improve reading for children in Pre-School through the 3rd grade. A three-year, $37 million federal grant was also awarded to the state of Illinois in 2001 for literacy programming in recognition of the early success of Illinois Reads.

The award will be presented in San Francisco at the Annual Convention’s Council Awards Celebration on April 28, 2002. Over 17,000 teachers, administrators and researchers will gather for an opportunity to attend sessions covering a wide range of reading and literacy issues.

Respicio Vazquez, the state superintendent for the Illinois Board of Education will accept the award on behalf of the state of Illinois. The Illinois Reading Council nominated Illinois for this award.

The International Reading Association is a community of reading professionals with more than 80,000 members in nearly 100 countries promoting higher achievement in literacy, reading and communication by continually advancing the quality of instruction worldwide.


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