WHY IS EARLY LITERACY SO IMPORTANT?
Reading is the foundation of all learning and fundamental to lifelong success. It impacts a person’s ability to learn, ability to work, and ability to move through life independently, as so much of society depends on comprehension of the written word. According to the American Educational Research Association, a student who can’t read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate high school.
The Alabama Literacy Act (ALA) was passed in 2019 as a commitment by the state to ensure every child can read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade. The ALA put a renewed focus on pre-k to third grade reading with targeted funding and resources to improve reading instruction, stronger teacher preparation in college to ensure new teachers are prepared for science-based reading instruction, and early identification and additional support for students with dyslexia and other specific needs.
In fourth grade, students transition from learning to read to reading to learn, so establishing a strong foundation is critical. Nationally, the average income for adults who reach minimum proficiency in literacy is almost $63,000, more than the average income of those below proficiency (almost $48,000), and much more than those with low levels of literacy (just over $34,000). It is crucial that the youngest students are prepared early with the skills and knowledge they need, like literacy, to succeed. Every student has the ability to learn how to read and should be provided the support to do so to succeed in the workforce and in life.