NH Bill Requiring Schools Adopt Modern Reading Instruction Heads to Governor

House Bill 1015 would formally implement the “five essential components of reading” into curricula across the state.

House Bill 1015 would formally implement the “five essential components of reading” into curricula across the state. (Dan Forer/Getty Images)

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New Hampshire public school teachers and officials would be required to update how they teach reading under a bill heading to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk.

House Bill 1015, which passed the Senate by voice vote Thursday, would formally implement the “five essential components of reading” into curricula across the state. That teaching process, developed in 1997 by the National Reading Panel, focuses on teaching phonetics rather than older instructional models that allow students to guess words based on visual patterns.

The approach has been lauded by experts and educators for decades as a more thorough way to teach reading, but not all New Hampshire school districts have implemented it on their own, proponents of the bill say.

“This bill can ensure all New Hampshire children are afforded reading development and instruction that’s delivered in a manner that meets their individual abilities and their individual needs,” said Rep. Corrine Cascadden, a Berlin Democrat, in testimony to the Senate.

Under current law, elementary schools are required to teach literacy up to third grade, instruction that includes “reading, writing, speaking, listening, reasoning, and mathematics.”

The bill requires instruction up to fifth grade and adds specific requirements for that instruction. According to the bill, the teaching must be measurable and evidence-based, and must include instruction in the five components: “phonemic awareness, phonics (both decoding and encoding of sounds and words), fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.”

The instruction would need to be aimed at allowing each student to achieve “grade level literacy,” the bill states.

The bill also expands on the current requirement that schools teach mathematics by requiring “mathematics reasoning” and “mathematics calculation” in state statute.

If signed into law, the bill will not take effect until July 2027, which sponsors say is intended to give schools more time to implement it.

Cascadden, a former elementary school principal in Berlin, said she had implemented the five components in 2005, when they were recommended by the state’s Department of Education at the time. “We saw success in the percentage of kids that improved in literacy,” she said.

But she said there has been less emphasis on the practice, and that some schools had since “fallen by the wayside.”

The bill passed the House nearly unanimously in March, 365-9.

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: info@newhampshirebulletin.com. Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.

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