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

NASBE invites state board members and state board staff to join a work group to learn from national experts about early-literacy trends and research and from 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 is forming an Early Literacy Work Group in 2022 to promote learning and action. 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


Work Group Goals

The goals for work group participants are as follows:

  • Strengthen knowledge and capacity for policymaking and promoting effective practices to support early education and literacy,
  • Engage directly and effectively with national and state experts about early literacy issues,
  • Acquire a deep understanding of how to align state education systems’ early literacy activities across birth to grade 5.
  • Connect with key state and local stakeholders
  • Elevate the state board role in promoting early and elementary education by leading conversations and supporting action to improve early literacy.


Eligibility, Time, and Travel Commitment

The early literacy work group is a one-year commitment, starting in May 2022. The work group will host three regular meetings including two virtual conferences and one in-person conference. There will be informal networking meetups and calls throughout the year. NASBE is also exploring opportunities for a site visit to an exemplary classroom; more details will be provided at a later time.

All state board members and staff are eligible to apply. Participation in the work group is free to NASBE members. State board members from non-member states will be assessed an $800 participation fee to join the work group.


Conference Travel Expenses

NASBE will assist with travel expenses for a limited number of participants from NASBE member states to attend the in-person meeting. NASBE cannot cover travel expenses for attendees traveling from non-member states.


Application Deadline

Applications will be accepted on a first-come-first-served, rolling basis and are due by Friday, May 13, 2022. If you have questions, or would like more information, please contact NASBE Director of Early Learning Winona Hao.


Early Literacy Work Group Application

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