Take Action as a Policymaker

As leaders at the state and local level, policymakers can use legislation to promote the importance of early reading and support programs aimed at ensuring that all students read proficiently by the end of third grade. As policymakers, learn more by clicking each of the ideas below.

Support policies that align with research-based approaches to improve third-grade reading. The Interim Study on Grade-Level Reading, presented to the state legislature’s education committees in Oct. 2014, outlines key strategies in a plan to help all Arkansas children read proficiently by the end of third grade.

  1. Read a summary of the report, with highlighted recommendations

Build public awareness of the connection between reading proficiency and healthy, prosperous communities. When more Arkansas children read on grade level and graduate from high school, the state’s economy will thrive and its quality of life will improve. Make sure everyone understands that early learning is an investment in Arkansas’s future.

  • View a collection of materials, including industry briefs and videos, from ReadyNation, a member organization of business leaders that makes the case for early learning.

Support policies that strengthen parent engagement. Students benefit academically when their parents are effectively engaged, resulting in a family-school partnership that meets the needs and interests of students.

Provide more resources for early learning. The demand for programs that support early learning is high, but more funding is needed to ensure these opportunities are available for all families who want them.

  • Push to expand access to home visiting and preschool programs so that all Arkansas children can read proficiently by the end of third grade.
  • Create incentives for school districts to use their National School Lunch Act (NSLA) and Title I money to expand pre-K.
  • Find out more about policies that impact grade-level reading. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families promotes policy priorities aimed at improving reading proficiency.  

Support screening programs for young children. Problems with vision and hearing, developmental delays and learning disabilities can keep children from learning to read. School readiness screening can detect other problems.

Promote policies to track chronic absence and intervene with at-risk students. When students miss too much school, they lose valuable instruction time and miss out on the education they need to succeed. But many communities do not track chronic absence or implement measures that could address this critical issue.

  • Ensure that school districts across the state are measuring and paying attention to how many students are missing nearly 18 days of school each year in excused and unexcused absences.  
  • Support interventions that encourage attending school. Encourage schools involved in the school improvement process to use chronic absence as a metric for success.
  • View Attendance Works’ state policy brief, which provides policy recommendations and examples that states have used to reduce chronic absence.  

Support afterschool, summer learning, and summer meal programs. Summer breaks from school often lead to a “summer slide” in math and reading skills, putting children from economically disadvantaged homes as much as 2.5 to three years behind their peers by fifth grade. Also during the summer, six out of every seven children who receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year lose access to those meals. You can play a leading role to provide support for engaging programs that keep children learning during the critical summer months and time afterschool.

  • Review research briefs from the National Summer Learning Association about the importance of strategies to curb summer learning loss.
  • Show your support for afterschool, summer learning, and summer meal sites by being part of a Summer Learning Day or Lights On Afterschool event.
  • Share information with constituents from the Arkansas Out of School Network on summer and afterschool resources.
  • Share information about free summer meal sites from the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
  • Provide funding for the Positive Youth Development Act which will support the implementation of effective afterschool and summer programs.
  • Incentivize school districts to use their NSLA and Title I funds to support afterschool and summer learning programs.  

Commit to action in your community and do your part for the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading by taking the pledge.