Priority 4: Improving Literacy
The southeastern states have placed considerable emphasis on literacy over the last decade. Yet, the needs are still great. Fourth grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) range from 22% to 36% at or above the proficient level. All except two states in the region are below national averages for student proficiency. Several states have or will have new statewide literacy plans designed to improve achievement beginning from birth through graduation.
The implementation of Common Core standards will require teachers in all content areas to place more emphasis on higher order cognitive demands. Additionally, the southeastern states have a large English language learner population and, as a result, there is an increasing need for more teachers to receive preparation and professional development in strategies for meeting the needs of all students.