What states are doing about the science of reading

What decisions are states making to support high-quality literacy instruction aligned with the science of reading? The National Association of State Leaders in Early Education’s new brief highlights several.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

What states are doing about the science of reading


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

Identifying promising practices around science of reading

In response to the buzz that ‘science of reading’ is generating among educators, researchers, politicians and policy-makers, the National Association of State Leaders in Early Education (NASLEE) has released a policy brief to share some of the promising practices and innovations states are putting in place to support teaching reading in ways backed by research. The NASLEE brief is aimed at state education leaders, who are negotiating a variety of new and emerging legislation regarding the science of reading and its application to young learners.

Guided by the science of learning

Science of reading research supports explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, concepts about print, phonics, fluency and skills that support comprehension, such as vocabulary and oral language development, and the building of background knowledge. But importantly, the NASLEE brief does not promote teaching the skills associated with the science of reading in isolation. NASLEE maintains that the science of learning should guide any early learning policies and practices, underlining, as we at Tools well know, that “children learn best through playful learning.” 

 “An important principle of the brief is providing state early education leaders with ideas that balance a focus on literacy with young children’s need to be immersed in content rich experiences that engage their minds.”
- NASLEE Public Policy Committee

States take a “comprehensive approach to policy implementation” 

States have been scrambling to make legislative and policy changes that position them to better align with science of reading research. Currently, about 10 states require that literacy instruction is grounded in the science of reading. The NASLEE brief highlights policy moves a variety of states have made pertaining to science of reading as it plays out in the areas of playful learning, K-3 alignment, cross-agency collaboration, family engagement, and quality preparation and professional development opportunities for educators and administrators. By considering the ways in which these areas are inherently interconnected, states are able to approach policy changes comprehensively, taking the science of early learning into account. Featured examples in the brief come from Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, MIssissippi, Michigan, California, Louisiana, and more.

Utah, for example, is taking advantage of cross-agency collaboration by recruiting community engagement and science of reading experts to train community coordinators. These coordinators will then work to engage families and school communities in efforts to promote literacy development through regional literacy events tailored to community needs. 

To see some of the way Tools aligns with the science of reading, see recent Tools for Thought articles The science of reading? We’ve got that! and Beyond phonics: a closer look at language development