Education Level: Early Grades

Overview

Early Grades
Grades 1-4

Decorative picture of a student walking.

Children must master building-block skills such as reading and math in the elementary grades so they’re fully prepared for the big move to middle school.

SREB’s Challenge 2020 goal for early grades education 

Student achievement for all groups in the early grades will exceed state standards and national averages – at rates that close achievement gaps between groups.

Track your state’s progress toward this goal in SREB’s State Progress Reports.

Publication November 2017 | 28 pages | (17E05)
Report cover: Ready to Read, Ready to Succeed: State Policies that Support Fourth-Grade Reading Success. November 2017 Southern Regional Education Board SREB.org

Ready to Read, Ready to Succeed
State Policies that Support Fourth-Grade Reading Success

What can states do to ensure that students read proficiently by fourth grade? This report presents states’ current progress on this milestone, which is crucial to a child’s long-term success, and offers recommendations for states. The report examines alignment of standards, curriculum, instruction and assessment; early childhood and kindergarten; identification, intervention and retention; and teacher preparation and training for reading instruction. 

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Blog post Dyslexia Policies in SREB States Samantha Durrance, SREB Policy Analyst
Dyslexia policies in SREB states, January 2018

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “Dyslexia”
Acknowledging and identifying dyslexia is step one in helping struggling readers

Researchers estimate that dyslexia affects at least one in 10 people. As defined by the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a neurobiological learning disability, unrelated to intelligence, characterized by differences in the way the brain processes language. These differences result in difficulties developing skills that are important for reading and writing. While it cannot be outgrown, individuals with dyslexia can learn strategies to help them overcome the unique challenges it presents.

Blog post Samantha Durrance, SREB Policy Analyst

Are teachers prepared to teach reading?
Research shows a gap between what we know about reading and how teachers are prepared to teach it

Reading is the foundation for learning.

The research is clear: Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are much more likely to face poor academic outcomes. For this reason alone, we know it is incredibly important that children learn to read well early in elementary school and continue to build on those reading skills throughout the rest of school.

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Early Grades: P-3 Alignment
SREB Annotated Bibliography, 2016

The early childhood years do not end when children enter kindergarten. In fact, experts agree that early childhood development is a continuous process that extends through third grade. During those first eight years of life, a child’s brain is most malleable and capable of learning. Thus, investments in the early years reap the largest returns. Education research mirrors science, supporting an aligned and high-quality education system from preschool through third grade.

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Early Grades: Reading
SREB Annotated Bibliography, 2016

One of the most crucial missions of the early grades is teaching students to read. Third-grade reading proficiency predicts long-term outcomes, including high school graduation. Many state policymakers have set third grade as the key pivot point in the early grades and have enacted grade-level retention laws based on reading assessment results. Even so, about two-thirds of fourth-graders were not reading proficiently on a widely recognized national assessment in 2015. Development in the first years of life shapes a child’s ability to learn to read.

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Early Grades: STEM
SREB Annotated Bibliography, 2016

While literacy has long led the early grades policy agenda, early math skills also are vital to success in school. In fact, these skills are more predictive of later achievement than early literacy or social development. Math skills are only part of a broader developmental equation. National attention has recently shifted to a set of competencies that economists project as key to future careers — science, technology, engineering and math. States must ensure more students graduate from high school ready for these critical jobs by promoting equitable access to high-quality STEM learning.

Publication June 201612 pages(16E06)
Cover of the SREB Goals for Education report.

Challenge to Lead Goals for Education: Refreshed 2020

Challenge to Lead 2020 Goals for Education: Refreshed 2020 offers six critical goals. They were designed to help SREB state leaders connect measures of student achievement to essential state policies. Each goal includes background information and the steps states need to take to meet each goal in the years ahead.

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Publication May 201212 pages(12E02R)

Smart Class-Size Policies for Lean Times

This policy brief summarizes class-size reduction policies across the region, reviews research on the issue, and offers recommendations on how states might make sensible adjustments without jeopardizing student achievement.

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Publication Crystal Collins, Marilyn Thomas200840 pages(08E05)

Set for Success
Improving Reading and Mathematics Achievement in the Early Grades

This report documents the continued progress of SREB states in preparing early grades students for success in the middle grades and beyond. It analyzes scores on state assessments and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and relates what states are doing to improve early grades reading instruction. It also presents intervention policies in SREB states and effective ways to meet the needs of students not yet achieving at grade level.

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