Press Releases


Connecticut State Department of Education Issues Waiver Determinations Regarding Right to Read Legislation

CSDE is working to enhance the effectiveness of literacy instruction; majority of districts already on track for full implementation by the deadline of July 1, 2025

(Hartford, CT) - The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) announced today that on December 1, 2023, it had informed 85 school districts, including charter schools, about the status of their Application Requesting a Waiver of Connecticut Approved K–3 Reading Curriculum Models or Programs (Waiver).

The Waiver applications provided districts with the opportunity to demonstrate whether their reading programs met the criteria set forth in the Right to Read legislation, which requires each district to partially implement an evidence-based, scientifically proven, reading curriculum beginning July 1, 2024, with full implementation beginning July 1. 2025.

In their Waiver applications, districts submitted evidence to establish their reading curriculum models or programs were robust alternatives to the programs approved by the CSDE’s Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success (Center), in consultation with the Reading Leadership Implementation Council, pursuant to the Right to Read legislation.

A thorough review of each district’s Waiver submission was conducted by Public Consulting Group (PCG), experts in reading research. Waiver determinations were then made by the Commissioner in consultation with the Director of the Center. The careful deliberation included one-on-one interviews with district representatives. As a result of the Waiver review process, the list of Connecticut Approved K–3 Reading Curriculum Models or Programs was expanded to include comprehensive reading curriculum models or programs and comprehensive compendiums of reading curriculum models or programs.

To see a full list of determination, please go to the Waiver Determinations web page.

The Department worked painstakingly to create a truly iterative process by which the Director and PCG systematically reviewed all waiver applications, many of which contained a compendium of curriculum models and programs,” said State Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker. “It is our goal that working together we will increase the effectiveness of literacy teaching and learning so that all Connecticut students are reading at or above grade level independently and proficiently by the end of the third grade.”

Starting July 1, 2025, and biennially thereafter, districts shall report to the Center detailing the comprehensive compendiums of curriculum models or programs they have adopted.

“Implementation of the Right to Read legislation is in full swing in Connecticut, thanks to the leadership of Commissioner Russell-Tucker and the entire team at the State Department of Education,” said State Senator Patricia Miller. “Through a comprehensive, open, and fair process, we know that every district in our state, in accordance with the law, will be using an evidence-based early literacy curriculum by the fall of 2025. Research shows that 95 percent of children can learn to read with the right tools, and Connecticut finally has those tools in place. I have been honored to play a part in making this a reality for all Connecticut students. What's more, other states are following our lead as a model for the science of reading legislation. I was recently invited by the Pennsylvania General Assembly Education Committee to testify on our Right to Read law as it has the potential to lead to great success for all students.”

“The science of reading highlights the importance of teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and language comprehension. When instruction is aligned to science, this opens the door to a boundless future for students, unlocking multiple pathways, deepening knowledge, and enhancing critical thinking,” Dr. Melissa Hickey, Director of the Center, said.

“Connecticut has some of the largest opportunity gaps in the country,” State Senator Douglas McCrory, Education Committee Co-Chair, said. “We are also aware that there is a strong connection between low literacy and the likelihood of a student being involved in the juvenile justice system, or not receiving their high school diploma.  Learning to read is as basic a right as being able to vote.  We need to do better for our students of color in this state, and requiring the Science of Reading in each school district is one step closer to leveling the playing field.”

“The work of the CSDE to understand where our public schools are with regard to K-3 reading instruction is invaluable,” said Sen. Eric Berthel, ranking member of the Education Committee. It not only sets the course for true literacy, but also provides the framework for future funding decisions and accountability. Our school children deserve the best possible opportunity to learn how to read and write. These skills are their foundation to complete their education and have success in Connecticut’s workforce. By 2025, all school systems in Connecticut will be required to meet the same standards for reading curricula.”

“Guaranteeing that all of our students are reading at a proficient level by the end of third grade is a common goal for all in the educational community,” State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, ranking member of the Education Committee, said. “I will continue to work in a collaborative manner with the State Department of Education, the Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success, and our school districts to ensure that this goal is logistically and financially viable.”

Based on 2022-23 data, 54.5 percent (approximately 19,500) of Grade 3 students are not proficient in English Language Arts. Over 8,000 of them are English/multilingual learners or students receiving special education, and the remaining 11,400 are identified as non-English language learners or students not receiving special education. Over 3,000 are Black/African American, over 8,000 are Hispanic/Latino, and over 6,600 are White.

“Education is the strongest foundation there is for the success of our students and our schools, as well as the future of our entire state,” said State Representative Jeff Currey, Education Committee Co-Chair. “This early literacy strategy we are now employing in Connecticut should be seen as a necessary and great investment, with the high likelihood of an even greater return.”

Identifying evidence-based, scientifically proven, instructional resources and providing financial support for their acquiring of them is one of many ways the state and CSDE are supporting districts. Research-based, scientifically supported materials are vital in Connecticut classrooms, to mitigate the gap in learning opportunities for Connecticut students.

The state has allocated $25 million in grants to assist school districts facing financial challenges in implementing the legislation. Commissioner Russell-Tucker has earmarked an additional $5 million specifically for districts with fewer than 1,000 students. The Department also will continue to prioritize professional learning opportunities for districts.

“Thank you to superintendents and everyone involved for your dedication to this effort,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said, “We are committed to continuing this important work together."


For Immediate Release: Dec. 5, 2023
Contact: Matthew Cerrone
CT State Department of Education
860-424-1988 (cell)

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