Last week, Ben Bernanke, Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System provided remarks for the Children’s Defense Fund National Conference addressing the crucial importance of effective early childhood support and public education to the success of our economy now and in the future. He stated, “When individuals are denied opportunities to reach their maximum potential, it harms not only those individuals, of course, but also the larger economy, which depends vitally on having a skilled productive workforce.”
To address the importance of the long-term impact of early education both Ohio and Massachusetts recently implemented new policies to increase their state level of reading proficiency by the end of third grade. In Ohio, the “Third-Grade Reading Guarantee” was approved by the state senate and will start this school year. The “Third-Grade Reading Guarantee” will consist of all students, kindergarten through third grade, being screened for reading proficiency at the beginning of each year. Within 60 days a plan will be developed to provide extra support to each individual child. Starting in 2013-2014 school year students who do not reach the reading target by the end of third grade will not be promoted to fourth grade.
In Massachusetts, the senate approved a bill this week aimed at strengthening third grade reading proficiency
. The Massachusetts Early Reading Council will address this challenge by working with state education officials on early age language and literacy strategies to ensure a language rich, engaging and rigorous curriculum for all students. Massachusetts State Senator, Katherine Clark
, who worked to introduce this legislation, released a statement, “As parents, teachers, administrators, concerned community members and government officials, we must continue to work together so that all children-at every ability and at every grade level-receive an excellent education that unlocks their full potential and prepares them to succeed. When we do, we wisely invest in their future-and our own.”
We know that to invest in the future we need to invest in early education. To invest in early education and develop literacy skills we need to provide teachers with effective practices and resources. State Senator Katherine Clark said, “ I remain dedicated to providing all school districts with the resources they need to serve all our students, including supporting early education for children under the age of five.”
At CLI, we know that a key component of effective education is professional development for teachers and the ability for students to be able to read proficiently by the end of the third grade. Research shows that reading by third grade is a crucial milestone and has long-term benefits. It is becoming evident throughout the country that reading proficiency is becoming an utmost priority.