The West Virginia Board of Education gave the green light for plans to accelerate state literacy rates by supporting the West Virginia Department of Education's "The Campaign for Grade Level Reading."
This latest effort is another milestone in the board's journey to meet Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's challenge to improve the reading proficiency of the Mountain State's youngest learners. In his State of the State Address, the governor asked the state board to take actions within its authority to assure all students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade.
"We know that one of the most important factors in student success is the ability to read," said Gayle Manchin, WVBE president. "A 2011 study documented the impact of reading proficiency on staying in school. Ninety-six percent of students who were proficient in reading in third grade graduated from high school. Reading proficiency is also linked to student self-esteem and disciplinary action which indirectly shapes educational achievement."
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is a national initiative which emphasizes third grade reading as a critical target, and it encompasses several groups that impact literacy throughout the life of a child such as parents, educators, health care professionals, business leaders and others. The work of the campaign is geared towards the challenges of literacy success: the readiness gap, the attendance gap, summer learning loss and parent and community engagement.
All campaign efforts will be coordinated through the WVDE Advisory Committee on a Comprehensive Approach to Early Learning (P-5). This advisory group was established in August and is focused on building a comprehensive plan for early childhood education and third-grade reading achievement.
In addition, the WVBE continues to work with state colleges and universities to raise standards for teachers, especially in the area of reading instruction. The board is also exploring how it can assure that all current teachers have the skills needed for the critical task of supporting literacy in all content areas and grade levels. Specifically, the board is requiring all new elementary teachers take and pass an assessment guaranteeing they possess the necessary skills to teach reading.