Study ranks Oklahoma in top 5 nationally for early childhood literacy education system

A national study released Monday ranked Oklahoma second in the United States for implementing a comprehensive system that ensures students develop strong literacy skills and read on grade level by the third grade.

The report, “From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Build Strong Readers,” by the national think tank New America scored states on 65 education policy points ranging from teacher preparation to student achievement. New York was the only state ranked higher than Oklahoma. Only the top five states were considered “walking” toward successful literacy rates by third grade on the report’s scale of “crawling, toddling and walking.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister congratulated Oklahoma’s educators on the national recognition.

“This report provides one more reminder that when Oklahomans get behind their schools and put the academic success of all schoolchildren first, we truly achieve great things. Thanks to our early childhood initiatives and highly qualified educators, Oklahoma is being recognized as a national leader in preparing students to read on grade level by the third grade. We are making strides in improving academic outcomes that last far beyond early childhood,” Hofmeister said.

In particular, the report highlights Oklahoma’s early childhood education programs — including universal pre-kindergarten and required full-day kindergarten — and high minimum certification and employment requirements to teach at those levels, ranking Oklahoma first in the nation in its “Educator” category.

It also spotlighted Oklahoma’s school funding formula and the Reading Sufficiency Act as important pieces of many components working together to achieve higher early childhood literacy.

Debra Andersen, executive director of Oklahoma’s early childhood initiative Smart Start, praised the progress Oklahoma has made and said it’s an indication that we must continue to strengthen and expand early childhood education programs.

“We are pleased to see Oklahoma rank in the top five among U.S. states that are implementing the right formula for supporting strong readers. From well-trained teachers and aligned early learning standards to universal pre-k and full day-kindergarten, our kids have one of the best systems in the nation to support their reading development. To better understand how well these investments are making a difference, we need to continue to improve our efforts in monitoring the progress of our students from early childhood into the early elementary years, increase our outreach to infants and toddlers in vulnerable families and continue to support our educators through training and adequate compensation,” Andersen said.

Read the report here.

View an interactive U.S. map with findings from the study.



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Last updated on November 24, 2015