The increase in student homelessness in Wake County is troubling for many reasons. For one, we know there’s a strong link between childhood poverty and impaired early literacy.
Only 29 percent of North Carolina students from economically disadvantaged families scored at or above reading proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2015.
Although North Carolina has made progress narrowing reading proficiency disparities among students of color, the gap in the average scores between black and Hispanic students and their non-Hispanic white peers is more than 20 points.
In recent years, North Carolina’s legislative leaders have zeroed in on early literacy and particularly third-grade reading skills, and rightly so.
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To truly support grade-level reading success, we need to recognize that literacy is a cumulative process that develops from birth and is rooted in early brain development.
Child development is a dynamic, interactive process that is not predetermined. It occurs in the context of relationships, experiences and environments. A child’s health, access to high-quality early learning opportunities and family stability all impact literacy development. Therefore, it’s critical that we address issues related to family economic stability if we are going to see improvements in third-grade reading scores.
Executive director, NC Child
Executive director, NC Early Childhood Foundation