Education Level: Early Grades


Early Grades
Grades 1-4

Decorative picture of a student walking.The early grades are crucial for developing the foundations needed for success in school and life. 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.


Publication April 20212 pages

Effective Summer Learning Programs for Elementary Students
Research Snapshot

Many districts and states are targeting summer break as the best opportunity to recover unfinished learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the federal COVID relief funds, schools can offer summer learning programs as they never have before. This research snapshot provides a summary of the most recent and relevant research on effective summer learning programs to help providers design programs that will benefit students the most.


Publication May 20208 pages
science report cover with a young child with mouth open in surprise at a substance over flowing from a beaker

Elementary Science
Equipping students through inquiry and integration

In the Elementary Science report, SREB examines how science instruction, typically taught separately from reading and math, may not be getting enough attention in elementary classrooms.  The reports looks at how waiting until the middle grades to give science an equal place among the academic subjects can hinder students in developing important thinking skills that will benefit them in all subjects areas and for later career success.


Publication May 20184 pages

Repeating a Grade: How Well Does It Work?
Research Snapshot

This research snapshot on retention policies examines what we know about retaining young students, from research on outcomes to how much states spend on additional years of schooling. The brief lists intervention policies in the nine SREB states that require third graders to show reading proficiency to be promoted to fourth grade.


Blog post 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, Policy Analyst, SREB

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.

Publication September 2016 | 4 pages

Early Grades: P-3 Alignment
Annotated Bibliography

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.

Publication September 2016 | 4 pages

Early Grades: Reading
Annotated Bibliography

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.

Publication September 2016 | 4 pages

Early Grades: STEM
Annotated Bibliography

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 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.