Governor, Educators and Others Rally Around Reading in West Virginia

April 22, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Guaranteeing students across West Virginia are reading at grade level continues to gain momentum with lawmakers, Pre K - 12 educators, higher education staff and non-profit organizations. The West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading was launched by the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) to ensure that all West Virginia children are proficient in reading by third grade. The campaign engages regional, state and local collaborations to elevate the awareness of and provide resources to assist local boards of education with the huge task of closing the literacy achievement gap by third grade.

"Ensuring West Virginia's students can read early in life is a critical building block to the educational foundation we've worked hard to provide our students, and I’m proud we are investing significant dollars to uphold that promise," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. "We must ensure our students can establish solid skills in elementary, middle and high school, then choose the path that best meets their future career goals. Whether in the form of additional training, a two-year degree or a four-year degree, the investments we are making now will help lay the foundation for our future generations and create highly skilled workers for years to come."

"We know that literacy proficiency by grade three is critical and lays the foundation not only for high school graduation, but also for lifelong learning," said Gayle Manchin, president of the WVBE.

Just recently, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin included 5.7 million dollars in the 2016 state budget to continue to support the innovative project. The majority of funding is being sent directly to county school systems and will be used to target factors associated with increasing third grade literacy proficiency specific to each county's identified needs.

In addition, the National Governors Association (NGA) recently chose West Virginia to participate as a lead state in its upcoming collaborative initiative. The initiative will examine the critical relationship between early literacy achievement and early numeracy efforts. Research clearly shows that early mathematics learning is a foundation for long-term student achievement. A team of educators from West Virginia will join other states to develop strategies to improve teaching and learning in early mathematics, from early childhood through third grade.

Also, to support a comprehensive approach to early literacy in West Virginia, West Virginia University's (WVU) College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) recently announced that the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation will fund a second year of a collaborative project that provides a cadre of 40 West Virginia Universal Pre K teachers with access to free graduate level early literacy coursework at WVU. Between Benedum funding and university tuition waivers, a second group of 40 West Virginia Universal Pre K teachers will have the opportunity to complete six graduate credits in early reading free of charge. The focus of these special topic courses is early literacy, National Board Certification, and teacher leadership.

"As part of the One Voice. One Focus. All Students Achieving vision plan, we will provide a statewide early childhood focus where we teach every child to read, on grade level, by third grade and where pre-literacy development is essential to closing achievement gaps," said Michael Martirano, state superintendent of schools. "The WVDE is well-poised to move forward with the West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading through a comprehensive approach to early literacy that includes an emphasis on all content areas of development in school, as well as strengthening school readiness efforts, promoting positive attendance patterns, and providing access to high-quality, sustained extended day and extended year learning opportunities."

For more information about the West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading visit or contact the WVDE Communication Office at 304-558-2699.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.