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


Last month, the National Association of State Boards of Education’s (NASBE) Early Literacy Work Group visited Wildflower Accelerated Academy in Avondale, Arizona, to learn about literacy initiatives in the state.

The school visit was part of NASBE’s 2022 Annual Conference and provided an onsite opportunity for state board members to learn from school leaders focused on reading and literacy achievement. The Early Literacy Work Group consists of state board of education members from Delaware, the District of Columbia, California, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, and New York.

NASBE Early Literacy Work Group members tour Wildflower Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dawn Gerundo, community development and engagement director for Valley of the Sun United Way, discussed how community organizations like hers have partnered with Read On Arizona—the state’s early literacy initiative—and Wildflower Accelerated Academy to improve early literacy for children and provide supports directly to the students.

During the school tour, attendees had the opportunity to observe reading lessons and ask students and teachers about their classroom experiences. A panel of Wildflower educators—including the principal and vice principal, K-2 teachers, paraprofessionals, literacy and math coaches, and a community literacy partner—presented on the school’s use of data to improve student learning, collaboration between math and reading coaches, teacher professional development, and reduction of student absenteeism.

Work group members later reflected on the school visit and identified policy priorities for state policymakers in early literacy. Georgia state board member Kenneth Mason noted the unified vision shared by the Wildflower teachers and the importance of community partnerships to support that. “You can’t create mindsets from PowerPoint presentations,” he said. “You can have a framework for a mindset, but you need partners.”

“Our preK-3 educators need supports through state policies to improve reading outcomes for young children,” said Winona Hao, director of early learning at NASBE. “In order to do that, states should ensure teacher pre- and in-service training incorporate evidence-based practices, such as the science of reading, and provide guidance to align standards, instruction, and curriculum. NASBE’s Early Literacy Work Group aims to tackle these difficult issues.”

NASBE established the Early Literacy Work Group to build on existing birth to age 8 state efforts and expand opportunities for state boards to better understand the B-8 system alignment. For any questions you may have around the work group or the school visit, please contact Winona Hao.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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