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W.Va. receives national recognition for early literacy work

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – National representatives today recognized West Virginia’s exemplary work in improving reading proficiency across the Mountain State.

The West Virginia Governor’s Office, West Virginia Legislature and West Virginia Board of Education were recognized with the State Pacesetter award for their implementation and support of the statewide Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading, which is the state’s effort to close the literacy achievement gap for West Virginia children ages birth through grade three.

Receiving the State Pacesetter award were, form left, Governor Justice Chief of Staff Mike Hall, State Board of Education Members Miller Hall and Jim Wilson, Policy Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Barbara O’Brien, State Board of Education Vice President David Perry and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine.

In 2013, the West Virginia Governor’s Office, the West Virginia Legislature, the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education came together to launch the literacy campaign to accelerate efforts to assure all students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. West Virginia was the first state to unanimously pass legislation and policy to support a statewide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

“Research tells us that one of the biggest indicators of future student success is the ability to read,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “If we ensure students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade, we lay the foundation for students to flourish throughout their educational careers. The work to support the success of all West Virginia students starts with policies that impact children from birth through third grade.”

Barbara O’Brien, policy director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading highlighted the following efforts in West Virginia during today’s ceremony:

  • Passage of WVBE Policy 2512: Transformative System of Support for Early Literacy and of HB 4618, which focus on implementation of a county-level framework to ensure children become proficient readers by third grade and are on track for high school graduation and college/ career readiness;
  • 40 counties use Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to ensure 27,268 children birth–5 receive a new children’s book monthly through their 5th birthday;
  • A school readiness approach that includes families, schools and communities;
  • County Collaborative Early Childhood Teams that emphasize the importance of high quality early literacy practices;
  • West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K program has continued to grow in participation, quality
  • and collaboration and was the original catalyst that led to a statewide, comprehensive approach to early learning;
  • West Virginia is one of five states in the nation to meet all 10 NIEER quality pre-K
  • benchmarks;
  • All 55 counties include school attendance in their Grade-Level Reading Action Plans;
  • and West Virginia is one of 36 states that included chronic absence as a measure in its ESSA State Plan


In part because of the literacy campaign, a 2016 report by New America’s Education Policy Program showed West Virginia leads the nation in developing children’s literacy skills. The report ranked West Virginia as one of five states identified as “walking” or making solid strides toward comprehensive birth to third grade policy.

The West Virginia Legislature currently allocates $5.7 million to the campaign, which has enabled county early literacy teams to have the resources necessary to advance efforts toward third grade literacy proficiency.

Learn more about the Campaign for Grade Level Reading by visiting:

For additional information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or [email protected].

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