Why Reading Matters and What To Do About It

Only one in three American students demonstrate reading proficiency in fourth and eighth grade. The Business Roundtable (BRT), an association of leading U.S. CEOs, recognizes literacy as a critical factor to addressing the “skills gap” U.S. companies are experiencing. In December 2016, to inform state legislation, BRT issued a report with six key policy recommendations. The BRT policy agenda starts with expanding access to high-quality pre-K learning opportunities and further builds that foundation to achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

Thirty-six states have passed some kind of legislation to address reading by third grade, but most do not have a coherent system and focus on intervention, instead of prevention.

A group of CEOs in North Carolina have taken on the BRT policies and put forward three key priorities to the General Assembly:
1 – Implement a comprehensive, coordinated system that ensures accountability and alignment of birth through age 8 programs
2 – Develop connected data systems that track children’s progress
3 – Expand access to NC Pre-K

The NC Early Childhood Foundation is working in coordination with the CEOs. In fact, for policy recommendation 2 on data systems, the CEOs call out NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading, which is the bold, coordinated vision of the NC Early Childhood Foundation to achieve third grade reading proficiency.

Reading proficiently by third grade requires starting before third, second and even first grade. We must start with high-quality pre-K to lay the foundations for achieving that goal, ensuring a future skilled workforce for our knowledge-driven global economy.

—Dr. Jim Goodnight, CEO, SAS

Why Reading Matters and What To Do About It: A CEO Action Plan To Support Improved U.S. Literacy Rates
December 2016
Authored by: Business Roundtable