With the 2019-2020 school year officially underway, IMSE is excited to announce our 5-part overview of literacy policies across the US. IMSE has traveled across the country (and world) offering Orton-Gillingham training to educators.

Over the years, one thing has become very clear: literacy policies are not very clear. Literacy and education policies can differ so much across country, state, and district lines.

The type of instruction, assessment, reporting, and financial commitment is vitally important to early literacy development and success. As more studies have shown that 4thgrade is the tipping point for literacy development, many states have adopted a 3rd-grade retention law.

These laws can either require or recommend that students scoring below average in reading scores must be held back from moving onto 4thgrade. While it is too early to draw a definitive conclusion on retention laws, we thought this would be a perfect time to look at the literacy and education policies for each state.

Each state has a slightly different approach to literacy development. Some are still devout to “learn to read, read to learn” while others are emphasizing the professional development of teachers. Certain states believe money is the answer to all problems while others are creating early literacy departments and commissions within the state government.

Throughout this series, we will highlight literacy policies and trends in each US state (not including the District of Columbia). Instead of listing the states alphabetically or by region, they will be listed by their average 4thgrade reading scores, as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The states will appear in order from the worst score to the best, using the 2019 Nation’s Report Card.

In the first installment of our literacy policy breakdown that will be published in two weeks, we will cover the states that ranked 50 through 41.