Education Week releases Building Literacy report

Early literacy skills are often seen as a key indicator of educational achievement, yet American schools continue to struggle to help a wider range of elementary school students become proficient readers. And classroom literacy instruction today is largely in flux, as one federal initiative dies down and states move on to new curriculum standards for early-grades reading instruction. To help sort out the confusion, Education Week today announced an in-depth look at the state of literacy in American K-3 classrooms with its Building Literacy special report, in print and now available online at

“With new research and insight to early-education literacy topics, this report represents our most up-to-date, thorough analysis of reading and literacy,” said Debra Viadero, an assistant managing editor atEducation Week and the executive project editor for Building Literacy. “Building Literacy examines what is working, and what may not be, as schools and educators adapt to changes and work with our nation’s young learners to instill necessary skills and a lifetime love of reading.”

Education Week’s Building Literacy report will be available for print subscribers on Wednesday, May 13. The report, including an interactive quiz, classroom videos, and other multimedia features, is also available online, starting today, in a curated section at Featured stories include:

  • Should 3rd Grade Be Pivot Point for Early Reading?

Education research reporter Sarah D. Sparks examines new research suggesting that holding students back when they don’t meet grade-level reading expectations may do more harm than good. And the theorized cognitive shift from “learning to read” in 3rd grade to “reading to learn” in 4th grade may not be as clear-cut as traditionally thought.

  • Teachers Turn to New Read-Aloud Strategies For Common-Core Era

Catherine Gewertz, an Education Week associate editor and an expert on the Common Core, reports on Las Vegas’ Clark County school district’s efforts to implement lessons from the Read-Aloud Project, a collective effort that reflects a major shift in reading instruction due to the Common Core State Standards.

  • Forget Word Lists: Vocabulary Lessons Start With Context

Liana Heitin, who also covers the Common Core for Education Week, looks at how some Washington, D.C., early-grades educators are embedding vocabulary instruction in thematic units–another change driven by the Common Core.

  • Alabama Coaches Up Literacy Lessons

Associate Editor Stephen Sawchuk’s case study follows the Alabama Reading Initiative, a coaching-based professional development program launched 17 years ago that has been credited with helping significantly increase state scores in 4th grade reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. From early challenges to providing a model for other state and federal programs, the ARI now faces an uncertain future.

  • Broadening The Push for Grade-Level Reading

Catherine Gewertz looks at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and how three communities – New Britain, Conn., Quad Cities, Iowa, and Topeka, Kan. – are working to improve 3rd grade reading proficiency through innovative attendance, summer learning, and school readiness programs.

  • Fluency Still Seen As Neglected Skill

Liana Heitin takes a close look at the perennial problem of improving fluency, the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression, and why fluency can become a barrier for some young readers. Experts caution that teaching speed alone can actually harm fluency development.

To see the full report, Building Literacy: The State of Reading Instruction in Grades K-3, and for exclusive online content, visit

Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Bethesda, Md. Its primary mission is to help raise the level of awareness and understanding among professionals and the public of important issues in American education. EPE covers local, state, national, and international news and issues from preschool through high school and beyond. It publishes Education Week, America’s newspaper of record for precollegiate education; Education Week Teacher; Digital Directions; and the Top School Jobs employment resource. EPE also produces periodic special reports on a wide range of issues, publishes books of interest to educators, and hosts numerous live and virtual events.

Credit: Education Week.

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