Early Literacy and Arizona's Common Core Standards

Author: Terri Clark, Arizona Literacy Director

June 28, 2013

Reading is the foundational skill for all school-based learning, and a child's ability to read proficiently at third grade is a strong predictor of future academic success. Those who do are much more likely to graduate from high school and attend college than those who don't. To achieve success at this crucial milestone, kids need to be on track from the time they start school. Research shows that children entering kindergarten without the skills they need to succeed in school rarely read proficiently by third grade.

Increasing the literacy skills of Arizona's children is vital to meeting the complex demands of today's 21st century work and learning environments. High standards for reading and writing proficiencies are a necessity, and the implementation of Arizona's Common Core Standards is an important and necessary step in raising expectations for our students. Literacy is infused throughout every category of the standards and is a common thread among the four key skills of a 21st century student: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Comprehension of a math word problem demonstrates key literacy skills, as does reading the instructions of a simple science experiment and predicting the outcome.  With the implementation of Arizona's Common Core Standards, reading comprehension will be a key component throughout a student's day, not just in a literacy block.

Taking effect in the 2013-2014 school year, Move On When Reading (ARS-15-701) also raises expectations for our students. It requires schools to retain third grade students who attain a "Falls Far Below" designation, the lowest reading level category, on the state reading test and who don't qualify for an exemption. In all, more than 22,000 third grade students are potentially at risk for not being at grade level. The adoption of these more rigorous standards underscores our highest aspirations for our students and the extent of the challenge facing Arizona on the path to grade-level reading.

Every parent can play a vital role in developing their child's literacy skills, and there are many ways to provide your child experiences that will set them up for success. One of the most important things a parent can give their child, in their earliest years, are words. Between the ages of one and three is the time of most rapid language and vocabulary acquisition. Reading is highly dependent on language ability, so children need to hear lots of words and have multiple opportunities to use them. Offer your child plenty of opportunities to talk and be listened to, to read and be read to, and to sing and be sung to. Do any or all of these things every day and you will be helping your child be on track for success in school and beyond.

Terri Clark is Arizona's Literacy Director


Category: Early Childhood Education

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