Instilling a proficiency for reading early on can lead to greater success down the road — for example, accomplished readers in third grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school. In order to create a school culture that promotes literacy, it's essential that the principal and other administrators support the effort from the beginning.
Learn more about why reading (unlike other curricular variables) can have such an impact in this excerpt from Education Dive:
A 2011 Wallace Foundation report on best practices in principal leadership highlights that education research shows most school variables have only small effects on learning when considered on their own.
“The real payoff comes when individual variables combine to reach critical mass,” the report's authors write. “Creating the conditions under which that can occur is the job of the principal.”
Strong principals have created environments that get teachers excited to come to work and students excited to come to school. They prioritize collaboration and professional learning so teachers continue honing their craft long after they get their first job or achieve tenure. They set high priorities for all students, regardless of family background, and set goals and pair them with a plan for achieving them.
They turn their schools into outliers.Why? Because literacy is the gateway to academic success in every other subject students take. They have to be able to read to understand math, to learn history and to study science and every other field.
A common refrain is that students learn to read until third grade, and from there they read to learn. Studies have linked third-grade reading level with high school graduation, finding students who are proficient at reading at that age are four times more likely to graduate than their peers who don’t master reading by the critical juncture.
Schools that invest in strong literacy instruction from the time students enter through third grade get a particularly significant return, whether that means starting with pre-kindergarten or kindergarten. That doesn’t mean teachers should back off from teaching reading at third grade, however. And principal leadership is key to making sure they don’t.Tara Garcia Mathewson, Education Dive
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