California state superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond has announced a new $27 million digital literacy partnership that will provide free bilingual early literacy assistance to California children and families through interactive e-books, songs, and games in English and Spanish. This digital literacy partnership is part of a statewide literacy campaign to help all California students come to school ready to learn and read proficiently by third grade. According to the California Department of Education, “it is urgent for the state, and for all schools, to redouble efforts to help students recover and expand literacy skills amid national reports showing declines in student reading levels during the pandemic. Superintendent Thurmond remains steadfast in his commitment to investing in improving literacy statewide. The is working to roll out and build on the investments of $250 million in this year’s budget to fund literacy coaches and intensive literacy action plans in schools with low-income student populations and $15 million in one-time Proposition 98 funding to help 6,000 educators receive reading and literacy instruction certifications.”
Last September, Superintendent Thurmond launched an initiative to ensure students learn to read by third grade by 2026. To advance this goal, a literacy task force was created to design strategies and make recommendations and secured one million book donations for students in need. Through another public–private partnership with Renaissance Learning, Inc., students downloaded more than five million free online books as part of the literacy efforts. Superintendent Thurmond has also pledged to work with community libraries to expand student library memberships and access as part of the strategy to promote literacy in the state.