Louisiana’s Literacy Renaissance Has Started
By Dr. John Wyble, CEO of The Center for Literacy & Learning
After achieving multiple years of literacy gains and a five-point increase on the 2022-2023 LEAP, Louisiana has begun its literacy revival. Through a renewed focus on evidence-based practices, intensive literacy interventions, and science-based professional development for teachers, the Pelican State is seeing strong reading growth. So strong that Louisiana is one of the most improving states posting a ten-point increase in national rankings. Although the state as a whole is growing, what is the magic recipe that is causing some school districts like Concordia Parish and Bogalusa City to outpace the state average by three and five times, respectively? An evidence-based wraparound approach to literacy.
Since 2020, Louisiana has required teacher training, curriculums, and interventions to be based in the Science of Reading that puts the focus on phonics when it comes to teaching young readers. On top of this policy shift, every district is required to have literacy coaches to support teachers in literacy instruction. The policy shift pushed by the legislature and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has led to more kids excelling at reading, but what sets districts apart is whether or not they take their literacy initiatives to the next level through wraparound services that support the literacy coaches, the administrators, and the parents at home.
The Concordia parish school district has made literacy a top goal. Through partnerships with The Center for Literacy & Learning, they have taken literacy instruction to a new height and have grown on the ELA LEAP assessment three times faster than the state average. From a top to bottom focus on ensuring teachers meet all student’s literacy needs, they have taken a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction. Not only are they using the Science of Reading in the classroom and utilizing literacy coaches, but they have also taken it a step further by partnering with The Center to create a customized professional development program for administrators, teachers, and their literacy coaches.
Concordia Parish School District participating in The Center’s Science of Reading training, Growing Reading Brains.
Concordia parish school district isn’t the only district that has seen success from a wraparound approach to literacy. Bogalusa City School District also saw huge strides with 92 percent of their third graders reading on or above grade level. Bogalusa has participated in various programs and services to create a comprehensive literacy plan that provides professional development and resources for all aspects of the school. They have ingrained literacy instruction into the core of their school. Literacy coaches in the school continuously sift through data and provide constant resources and feedback for teachers to ensure they feel supported in the education of every student.
The Center visited Byrd Avenue Primary, part of Bogalusa City School District, to celebrate the success and partnership with the Literacy Coach Program.
The old adage it takes a community to raise a child is definitely true especially when it comes to teaching a child how to read. Recent successes in Concordia, Bogalusa, and many other districts across the state prove that it’s not solely a teacher’s job to help kids become successful readers, it’s everyone’s responsibility. Whether it’s an administrator providing teachers with resources and establishing a solid literacy plan or a literacy coach seeking information from outside experts and providing strategies and coaching to a teacher or even parents reading to their child and cementing the work that teachers do every day in the classroom, everyone has a part to play.
If a child is not reading on grade level by the end of third grade, their chances of dropping out of school and potentially ending up in the criminal justice system skyrockets. Louisiana is finally moving in the right direction and more kids than ever are being set up for bright futures. The time is now to double down and continue this revival. The more buy-in districts have into evidence-based practices and professional development for every aspect of their schools, the better children perform. Louisiana’s literacy renaissance has started, let’s ensure it continues for decades to come.
For more resources and information on The Center’s customized programs please visit, mycll.org/language-and-literacy/.
Dr. John E. Wyble, CAE
Chief Executive Officer