- The state will improve access to quality pre-K and make reading coaches available for at-risk children.
Every child in Arkansas is capable of reading and writing proficiently, but today only 35% of students are reading at grade level. This issue starts even before kindergarten as too few children are entering kindergarten ready to learn. To achieve Arkansas’s literacy goals, the state must create a unified early childhood system. It must also ensure students have access to high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) grounded in the Science of Reading taught by a teacher who has been trained on the HQIM and Science of Reading instructional practices.
In order to ensure all children enter kindergarten ready to learn, ADE commits to:
- Partner with those closest to children and classrooms: Create a system of strong state-local partnerships to improve access to quality early care and education options in all communities in Arkansas.
- Know how many kids already have a seat: Collect an accurate count of all children served by publicly funded early care and education in partnership with local leads to provide leaders with information to guide decision making.
- Define excellence: Establish a single vision for quality early care and education that is tied to kindergarten readiness and drives improvement for all sites, in partnership with local leads.
In order to ensure all children have access to quality literacy instruction and high quality instructional materials, ADE commits to:
- Equip every K-2 classroom with materials aligned to the Science of Reading: Reach 100% adoption of high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) aligned to the Science of Reading in all districts.
- Provide teachers with HQIM training: Identify an Arkansas marketplace of strong and curriculum-specific professional partners to provide high-quality training aligned to the new materials for every teacher.
- Deploy coaches to targeted schools: Recruit, train, and onboard at least 120 literacy specialists to provide direct coaching and professional learning to all K-3 teachers in D and F schools. Focus all current and new literacy specialists on direct coaching.
- Simplify the literacy screening process: Identify or develop a single high-quality literacy screener for K-3 students and craft guidance to help teachers interpret results, drive instructional decisions, and support students who do not meet the reading standard.
- Empower families to support early literacy at home: Develop guidance and resources for districts to implement individualized reading plans and read-at-home plans for K-3 students who do not meet the reading standard.
- Ensure pre-service teachers are trained on Science of Reading: Support educator preparation programs to graduate teachers prepared to use high-quality K-3 HQIM grounded in the science of reading to provide evidence-based instruction.
- Make it easy for districts to adopt HQIM: Leverage incentive funding, publish district curriculum adoption decisions, and provide ongoing technical assistance to districts to make it easy for every Arkansas school to adopt HQIM across all grade levels in ELA/Literacy and Mathematics.
- Make high-quality literacy and numeracy intervention accessible for all: Identify barriers, propose specific solutions, and incentivize districts and schools to implement those solutions so all students who persistently struggle receive high-quality literacy and numeracy intervention supports and services tailored to their individual needs.