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To Improve Literacy, States Should Invest in Comprehensive Supports for Teachers

Alexandria, VA — Concerns about students’ lack of reading proficiency compelled 30 state legislatures over the last decade to require that teachers receive training and professional development in the “science of reading.” But passing legislation will not improve literacy outcomes by itself. According to a new NASBE analysis, teachers need comprehensive supports to equip them to deliver high-quality, evidence-based reading instruction.

State boards of education can play a key role in providing such holistic support through better teacher preparation standards in early literacy and professional development guidance; specialized classroom support; and a coordinated strategy that helps teachers align curriculum, instruction, and their professional development with the science of reading. Several states have advanced policy in one or more of these areas:

  • Colorado and Delaware refined their teacher preparation program standards. Colorado rejected a proposed program because it did not sufficiently address strategies for reading instruction, while Delaware’s new standards stipulate a minimum number of hours in which teachers must receive training in reading instruction.
  • Mississippi overhauled its professional development standards to include focused training in the science of reading and hired literacy coaches to help classroom teachers improve curriculum delivery.
  • Florida intensified training for literacy professionals through revised qualifications, including a requirement that literacy coaches attend “certification boot camps” and through specific instruction in the state’s English language arts standards.
  • North Carolina implemented an all-encompassing plan that includes state oversight of district plans to improve literacy outcomes and training in evidence-based reading instruction throughout teachers’ training and professional development.
  • In order to help students build a robust literacy foundation from an early age, states should also consider investments to extend literacy training and supports for preschool educators, as Michigan has done.

“Policies must go beyond simply mandating evidence-based reading instruction and requiring teacher training,” writes author Winona Hao. “Designing a fully supportive system for teachers is key to state policymaking that will lead to better literacy outcomes for young children.”

Read more and share: Teachers Need Multifaceted Support to Improve Literacy

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


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