The Campaign has long proclaimed the importance of aligning prekindergarten instruction and curriculum with what’s taught in the primary grades. Now a respected education research organization has declared PreK-third alignment the No. 1 policy area to focus on in 2012.
A new report from the Education Commission of the States predicts which issues have the most potential to effect change this year. The report, “12 for 2012: Issues to Move Education Forward in 2012,” emphasizes that integrating PreK-third grade would create a greater likelihood that all students will be proficient readers by the end of third grade. ECS specifically highlights the Campaign’s leadership in promoting third grade reading.
The top 12 list includes other issues on the Campaign’s radar screen, as well. No. 4 is the common core standards, a key to raising the bar so that reading proficiency is measured in a consistent and meaningful way. No. 6 is teaching quality, another of the Campaign’s goals.
As the report predicts, states are already making PreK-third grade a priority:
- In Wisconsin, a task force spearheaded by Gov. Scott Walker and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers released a comprehensive action plan to boost reading scores. The recommendations include requiring schools to screen all kindergarteners, allowing teachers to intervene earlier for students who need more support when learning to read. The task force also recommends that teachers focus explicitly on reading instruction in their professional development.
- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is proposing a kindergarten readiness measure as well as a reading skill level for students to advance beyond third grade.
- Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick included third-grade reading as the first item on his four-point education agenda. His state was one of nine to win a Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge grant. Patrick has proposed a pilot kindergarten readiness literacy program in the state’s low-income Gateway Cities.
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the current chair of ECS, is focused on improving third-grade literacy, and Chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, is preparing a major bill on the subject.
- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal put money in his budget for a reading mentors and called third grade reading a strategic benchmark. “When we fail to invest in our youngest students,” he said in his state of the state address this month. “We are forced to spend money on remediation for the remainder of their academic careers.”
You can read more about the importance of PreK-third grade alignment on the Campaign’s latest research area page.