HARRISBURG – At a Capitol press conference today, Reps. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) and Justin Fleming (D-Dauphin) unveiled legislation built on last year’s efforts to advance early literacy in Pennsylvania.
As part of the 2022-23 state budget, Ortitay added language to the Education Code creating a program of professional development and applied practice in structured literacy for school personnel. The program includes in-class demonstrations, modeling, and coaching support to improve reading and early literacy outcomes.
“Last year’s actions were a good first step to putting Pennsylvania’s children on the pathway to literacy,” Ortitay said. “But I’m not done and thank Rep. Fleming for joining me in efforts to ensure literacy for a lifetime. Nearly half of Pennsylvania fourth-grade students are reading below their grade-level. Reading deficits are due to many factors, including inequitable educational opportunities. Further, childhood reading difficulties can produce long-term effects. One in five American adults currently struggle to read basic sentences.”
“As a father of two, I understand the importance of literacy and am honored to join Rep. Ortitay in his work,” Fleming said. “It is critical that we provide more personalized and flexible learning environments for students. Our students need us now more than ever, and literacy is a great equalizer. It not only empowers our communities, but also improves health, teaches employment skills, and allows us to better understand and navigate the world around us. Literacy is for all, and thankfully we can look to decades of cognitive science on how to achieve this goal.”
House Bill 998
would create a three-stage approach. First, the legislation would create an evidence-based reading curriculum. Next, a universal screening would be created, beginning in the first 30 days of school, to identify struggling readers. Finally, using the screening data, schools would design and implement intervention plans to prevent children from falling behind.
The bill has been referred to the House Education Committee for review.
The 46th Legislative District includes South Fayette Township and McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Cecil, Chartiers, Mt. Pleasant and North Strabane (Districts 6,7,8 and 9) townships and Canonsburg, Houston and McDonald boroughs in Washington County.
The 105th Legislative District include Susquehanna and most of Lower Paxton townships and Penbrook Borough.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick