by Richard Long
International Reading Association
October 31, 2013
Early in October, the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices issued a paper: A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading by Third Grade. The report observes that those students who are not reading at grade level by the third are at risk of failure. They cite that only one third of all students enter the fourth grade with the literacy skills needed to succeed. The report makes three observations:
- Starting at Kindergarten is too late.
- Reading proficiency requires three sets of interrelated skills:
- Language and communication skills,
- Mechanics of reading, AND
- Content knowledge.
- Parents, primary caregivers, and teachers have the most influence on children’s language and literacy development.
They recommend that the governors and other policy makers take five actions to adopt policies and change systems to better ensure that all children are on track to be strong readers by the end of third grade:
- Adopt comprehensive language and literacy standards and curricula for early care and education.
- Expand access to high-quality child care, pre-Kindergarten and full-day Kindergarten.
- Engage and support parents as partners.
- Equip professionals providing care and education with the skills and knowledge to support early language and literacy development.
- Develop mechanisms to promote continuous improvement and accountability.
This report is part of a wide ranging initiative by NGA to promote early childhood education by encouraging changes in state policies and encouraging an expansion of early childhood programs. The advisory group they convened worked with representatives of six states to develop the core ideas around what worked well and what needed to be done. The U.S. Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is expected to create a set of recommendations to create a new program to ensure universal pre-Kindergarten for all students, with the first phase being those children who live in poverty.
The report may be of use to IRA members as they advocate for state policies that support early literacy development. The report can be accessed on the NGA website.
Reader response is welcomed. Email your comments to LRP@reading.org