West Virginia Leads Nation In Developing Children's Literacy Skills

January 06, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia leads the nation in developing children’s literacy skills according to a recent study released by New America’s Education Policy Program. The report, “From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-Third Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers,” ranks West Virginia as one of five states identified as “walking” or making solid strides toward comprehensive birth to third grade policy.

West Virginia was joined by New York, Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Wisconsin as the top states ensuring children are on track to read on grade level by the end of third grade.

The report notes that “it should come as little surprise that Oklahoma and West Virginia score fairly well. They each have robust state pre-K programs that include basic quality indicators. Pre-K programs in both states have low adult to child ratios, teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in early childhood education and the state conducts site visits to ensure that programs follow state requirements.”

The report evaluated states on 65 indicators in seven policy areas including educator qualifications; standards, assessment and data; equitable funding; pre-K; full-day kindergarten; dual language learner supports; and third grade reading laws.

West Virginia scored well in the kindergarten and pre-K categories. Full-day kindergarten is required under state statute and West Virginia has a state-funded pre-K program. In addition, the state has a third grade reading law. West Virginia provides its highest-poverty districts with equal to or more funding than low-poverty districts and provides strong education spending relative to the state’s economic productivity.

“This report solidifies that West Virginia is moving in the right direction,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We know that closing the literacy achievement gap by the end of third grade will increase opportunities for all West Virginia students to graduate high school with the skills and dispositions needed to enter the world college and career ready. The work to support the success of all West Virginia students starts with policies that impact children from birth through third grade.”

Among the success outlined, the report does note there is still work left to do across all states to truly make a difference for all children within the birth to third grade continuum.

“The report indicates areas in which we plan to continue to improve moving forward and the further refinement of a world-class early learning education system will require all stakeholders to have an active role,” said Clayton Burch, Chief Academic Officer. “We will continue to work to ensure West Virginia children have access to high-quality early learning programming with an emphasis on early learning attendance, school readiness and access to high-quality extended-day and extended-year programs for young learners.”

The study was funded by the Joyce Foundation, Alliance for Early Success and the McKnight Foundation.

To view a full, in-depth analysis of each state and its policies, visit: www.newamerica.org/education-policy/from-crawling-to-walking/.

For additional information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Kristin.Anderson@k12.wv.us.

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