Senate Bill No. 394
(By Senator Boley)
[Introduced February 4, 1998; referred to the Committee
Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article seven-c, relating
to education; creating the literacy restoration act;
providing legislative purpose and findings; definitions; and
requiring intensive systematic phonics instruction in public
schools, kindergarten through third grade.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article seven-c, to read
ARTICLE 7C. THE LITERACY RESTORATION ACT.
§18-7C-1. Short title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the
"Literacy Restoration Act".
The legislative purpose of this article is to insure that
prospective reading teachers who graduate from publicly supported
teacher-training institutions in West Virginia, or any college or
university that receives state funds as a portion of its
operating budget are required to receive a full year of
instruction in intensive systematic phonics. This instruction
shall include, but not be limited to a thorough review of the
experimental research supporting classroom instruction in
intensive systematic phonics. This requirement shall be
successfully completed as a prerequisite for graduation.
All elementary reading teachers; under contract to teach in
the public schools of this state, shall use an intensive
systematic phonics approach to teaching reading, beginning in
kindergarten and continuing through third grade.
All public schools in this state shall provide thorough
instruction in intensive systematic phonics for all first grade
reading teachers currently teaching in these public schools.
. Legislative findings.
The Legislature finds that the English language is the
common language of the United States of America. It is a fundamental and incontrovertible fact that written English is
based on the alphabetic principle, and is a phonetic language.
The prevailing philosophy that learning to read is just like
learning to speak, is accepted by no responsible linguist,
psychologist, or cognitive scientist in the research community.
Medical science has confirmed that learning to read is a skill
that must be directly taught. Experimental research clearly
supports systematic phonics instruction as the most effective,
efficient way to teach an individual to read. Recent surveys
conducted by the United States department of education continue
to show a serious decline in reading ability of elementary and
secondary students in the United States, and West Virginia in
particular. Almost all teachers colleges, universities, and
public schools teach "whole language" or some derivative of
"whole language". The illiteracy rate for West Virginia exceeds
any acceptable standard and must be reduced, if not totally
§18-7C-4. Intensive systematic phonics instruction.
(a) Intensive systematic phonics instruction shall be taught
in all public schools, kindergarten through third grade.
(b) All prospective reading teachers who attend publicly
funded universities and colleges in West Virginia are to complete
a one-year course in intensive systematic phonics, as a prerequisite for graduation.
(c) In-service training in intensive systematic phonics is
required for reading teachers to be granted certification to
teach in the public schools of this state.
(d) Those reading teachers currently teaching in public
schools are required to pass a competency test that includes the
elements of intensive systematic phonics. All elementary reading
teachers in this state must successfully complete the reading
competency test within a two-year period or lose certification
for teaching reading.
(e) Funds necessary to conduct in-service teacher training,
develop the reading competency test and develop the university
courses required by this article shall be appropriated by the
(a) "Intensive systematic phonics" means the direct teaching
of a preplanned sequence of relationships between speech sounds
and all their letter equivalents. Instruction in the left to
right blending or "sounding out" of two or more letter groups,
and practice with reading material that includes letters and
letter groups presented in the order that they have explicitly
(b) "Whole language" means a philosophy of reading instruction which considers phonics as one of three strategies
(semantic, syntactic and graphophonic) to teach reading. This
philosophy advocates the use of context clues, whole word
memorization, invented spelling, word guessing and the use of
picture clues as a basis for instruction. It assumes that
language acquisition is "natural", that children are born with
the ability to read and that phonics training is to be incidental
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to enact "The Literacy
Restoration Act". It requires intensive systematic phonic
instruction in the public schools in kindergarten through third
grade. All prospective reading teachers are required to complete
a one-year course in intensive systematic phonics as a
prerequisite to graduation.
Article 7C is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.