Teacher Training & Structured Literacy: Pennsylvania House Bill 1642 and Chapter 49

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** Special Announcement **

Structured Literacy (SL) by law must be included in teacher training programs throughout the state of Pennsylvania beginning August 1, 2024.

In July 2022, the Pennsylvania state legislature passed House Bill 1642, which makes changes to Chapter 49 regulations for teacher training. The new regulations, for the first time, require that institutions of higher education provide teacher preparation in SL for early elementary teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, and English language learner teachers. Institutions of higher education must comply with the new requirements for SL teacher preparation by August 1, 2024.

To get to this point, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) adopted the definition of SL provided by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).  The Department recently formed working groups to develop a set of competencies that are consistent with IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading (KPSTR). The KPSTR provide specific guidelines for explicit, phonics based, systematic instruction for all children learning to read. 

To facilitate the change, PDE is developing resources and standards for SL training, including professional development for in-service teachers as well as resource materials and training for principals to support the implementation of SL in public schools. PDE is working to establish the following:

  • Professional development for explicit, systematic Structured Literacy in phonological and phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle and decoding, encoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and building background knowledge.
  • Guidelines for standard components in professional development and criteria for measuring literacy outcomes.
  • Standards for higher education teacher preparation related to phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension, differentiated instruction, identification and intervention of dyslexia, high quality materials, developmentally appropriate supports, and universal screening.

The PA Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (PBIDA) is planning to facilitate capacity building among higher education faculty and administrators for SL teacher preparation in the following ways:

  • Send 15 faculty members from PA higher education institutions to the Higher Education Summit hosted by Mount Saint Joseph’s University and the Alliance for Reading Science in Higher Education in Syracuse, New York in the fall of 2022.

  • Hold a follow-up PA Summit in the Spring of 2023 to develop a network of higher education faculty and administrators who can collaborate toward meeting the new Chapter 49 and statutory requirements for teacher preparation in SL.

  • Partner with other literacy organizations across the state for the PA Summit and continue capacity building in SL implementation at both the higher education level and the in-service level, including facilitating partnerships between institutions of higher education and local public schools. 

The change to teacher regulations in the state of Pennsylvania reflects years of work by many dyslexia advocates. This legislation is a hopeful change for all students, especially those who struggle with reading.