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Legislators Learn More About Early Childhood Literacy

ABC Little School in Los Angeles now closes Fridays for deep cleaning to help protect children and workers from the coronavirus.
Stephanie Ortega
An alphabet rug sits prominently in an early childhood classroom.

Legislators heard more about the state’s early childhood literacy efforts Monday evening.

In a second day of interim meetings, members of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability heard details about the state’s support for early literacy through reading and instructional coaches.

Department of Education Teaching & Learning Officer Sonya White presented a report on the status of the transformative system of support for early literacy. COVID-19 was a major factor in the report.

White said that while the latest summative assessment does not show third graders back at pre-pandemic levels, things are moving in the right direction.

“In 2021, we had a significant dip,” she said. “And then this past year, we're moving back in the right direction.”

White also said enrollment in the state’s universal pre-K program was up after a significant drop in 2021.

“This year, 66 percent of our kindergarteners attended preschool prior to starting kindergarten this past year,” she said. “When you do that math, it looks like fewer students did, but typically we're between 70 and 75 percent of our four-year-olds participating in universal pre-K.”

Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, questioned why the state superintendent called for more funding for early intervention at Sunday’s interim meeting when the state was already spending close to $6 million on such projects.

“I'm really confused that the Department of Education is giving us two different messages in two different days,” Roberts said.

White explained it's simply not enough.

“I mean, quite frankly, we need to make sure that we are reaching all of our schools,” she said. “For this report, this is what's going on, but it doesn't begin to cover what we need.”

Legislators also heard a report on the state’s annual survey of facility safety and security.

North Central/Morgantown Reporter, cschulz@wvpublic.org, 304-284-1497, @SchulzReports

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