Alumna Emily Solari major contributor to passage of Virginia Literacy Act

Thursday, October 27, 2022
Emily Solari

Alumna Emily Solari of UC Santa Barbara's Gevirtz School was a major contributor, in collaboration with the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Law and Virginia State Delegate Carrie Coyner, to the development and recent passage of the new Virginia Literacy Act (VLA). This Act will provide $70 million in funds to improve literacy outcomes for Virginia’s young learners. In a remarkable achievement, the Virginia Literacy Act passed with 100% approval of all representatives regardless of political party. This Act will require school divisions to develop literacy plans, ensure the use of evidence-based literacy curriculum, staff enough reading specialists to support intervention needs, and provide professional development to support teachers, reading specialists, and principals.

The VLA, which goes into effect in the 2024-2025 school year, will ensure that students in kindergarten to grade three will receive core literacy instruction based in scientifically based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction. Families will have access to online resources to support literacy development at home and will be able to participate in the development of their child’s student reading plan, if their child does not meet literacy benchmarks. Reading specialists, in consultation with classroom teachers, will coordinate and oversee intervention for students not meeting literacy benchmarks, and will develop and monitor student progress on student reading plans, working closely with families and teachers.

Solari (Education, Ph.D., ’07), Coordinator and Professor in the Reading Education program in UVA’s Department of Curriculum and Special Education, is the current holder of UVA’s prestigious Edmund H. Henderson Endowed Professorship in Education. She is the Principal Investigator of two Institute of Education Sciences research grants, testing the efficacy of evidence aligned reading curricula with struggling first grade readers in multiple states (CA, VA, and TX). She also serves as the PI of a postdoctoral training grant, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, aimed at training fellows who are interested in developing as scholars who investigate academic development, such as reading and writing, in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Solari is also the PI of the predoctoral training grant, funded by the Office of Special Education program, that will train future scholars and teacher educators in the science of reading and evidence-based reading assessment and instruction for students with disabilities.

Solari also directs Virginia Literacy Partnerships (VLP). The office is dedicated to ensuring that all children across the Commonwealth have access to evidence-based literacy screening, instruction, and intervention. She currently serves as the Editor-In-Chief of The Reading League Journal, a new journal dedicated to translating specific reading research findings for a practitioner audience; she is also an Associate Editor for Journal of Learning Disabilities and Remedial and Special Education. She also serves on various state and national level executive boards including the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division of Learning Disabilities and The Reading League’s Virginia Chapter.