The only organization dedicated solely to helping state boards advance equity and excellence in public education.

Early Literacy Work Group

About the Early Literacy Work Group

In 2022, NASBE formed the Early Literacy Work Group so that state board members and staff can learn from national experts about early-literacy trends and research and from other states that have employed effective policies and practices to increase young children’s reading success.

Research demonstrates that students not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to not finish high school. Third grade marks an important turning point, when the focus shifts from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn. During this transition, students spend less time learning new reading skills and are instead learning new content and concepts that the reading conveys. However, the most recent NAEP score in 2019 revealed that the percentage of fourth-grade public school students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level in reading was 34 percent nationally, which was below the levels in the 2017 report. The declining reading achievement has caused state policymakers and practitioners to strengthen their engagement on the early literacy issue. In recognition of this importance, NASBE has formed an Early Literacy Work Group to promote learning and action among state boards. The work group will cover a range of content and policy knowledge about early literacy for children across early childhood and elementary grades, including, but not limited to the following:

  • science of reading
  • high-quality reading instruction and programs
  • early-literacy policymaking (review, audit, develop, revise, adopt, approve)
  • effective professional development for educators
  • teacher qualifications and requirements
  • kindergarten readiness
  • reading intervention
  • reading benchmarks
  • birth to third grade system alignment
  • dual language learner support

State board members can join the Early Literacy Work Group on an individual basis. If you want to learn more, contact Joey Hedger at

Press Release

NASBE, NCSL Hold Convening on Early Literacy and Math in San Diego

tate board of education members from the National Association of State Boards of Education’s (NASBE’s) Early Literacy Work Group joined state legislators from across the U.S. to collaborate and discuss the latest research and state activities surrounding early literacy and math policymaking.

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State Policy to Support Early Literacy Success

After recent NAEP scores highlighted low reading proficiency among students in the U.S., many states are looking to science of reading and evidence-based literacy instruction to bolster their state policies to better prepare young children on how to read. State boards of education have the opportunity to ask questions and support policies that ensure all […]

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Policy Update

Teachers Need Multifaceted Support to Improve Literacy

To improve literacy, states should invest in comprehensive supports for teachers to equip them to deliver high-quality, evidence-based instruction.

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State Innovations

Georgia and Massachusetts Advance Dyslexia Screening and Intervention

State boards can advocate for more young children to be screened for dyslexia and ensure that identified students receive effective interventions, as those in Massachusetts and Georgia have done.

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The Standard

Moving the Needle on Literacy

To move the needle on literacy, state policymakers must consider the full spectrum of research and focus on high-quality teacher preparation, continuous professional development, and rich curriculum to meet the needs of all students.

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Press Release

NASBE’s Early Literacy Work Group Tours Arizona’s Wildflower Accelerated Academy

State board of education members from Delaware, the District of Columbia, California, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, and New York gather in Arizona to learn about the state's early literacy initiatives.

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