K-3 Literacy

Students reading outside

K-3 Literacy Director: Dr. Tara Watkins Galloway


  • Provide support to ensure all students acquire the foundational literacy skills necessary to read, comprehend, integrate, and apply complex texts necessary for college and career success.


  • Improve student achievement and outcomes in early literacy through supporting evidence-based, high-quality literacy instruction aligned to the science of reading.

Guiding Principles of Support: 

  • Implementation of evidence-based instructional strategies to improve early literacy outcomes among students 
  • Guidance on components essential to early learning success: phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension 
  • Educator preparation in effective literacy instruction
  • Professional development in systematic, explicit, evidence-based early literacy instruction aligned to the science of reading

Read to Achieve

Third-grade students receive extra attention in North Carolina because of the state’s Read to Achieve legislative initiative, a part of the Excellent Public Schools Act. Under this state law, third-grade students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade will receive special help, including summer reading camp and other interventions to make sure that they can read well enough to be able to do fourth-grade work.

Read to Achieve Repository

Purpose of Read to Achieve: 

  1. Eliminate Social Promotion
  2. Facilitate Early Grade Reading Proficiency 
  3. Promote Developmental Screening and a Kindergarten Entry Assessment 
  4. Provide a Comprehensive Plan for Reading Achievement 
  5. Support Successful Reading Development for Retained Students 
  6. Outline Notification Requirements to Parents and Guardians 
  7. Implement the Accountability Process

Comprehensive Plan for Reading Achievement

The North Carolina K-3 Literacy Comprehensive Plan for Reading Achievement (CPRA) was approved by the State Board of Education on September 3, 2020. The plan fulfills the Read to Achieve legislative charge of the State Board of Education to develop, implement, and continuously evaluate a comprehensive plan to improve reading achievement in public schools. In accordance with G.S § 115C-83.1 and  G.S § 115C-83.4, the CPRA is a prodigious step in supporting educators across the state with current research, guidance, and resources to enhance educator knowledge and positively impact reading achievement for students, as we are committed to having all students reading on grade level by third grade.  Educators may use this plan to:

  • support systems decision-making and alignment of resources,
  • build educator knowledge and practice aligned to current research,
  • make decisions when selecting curriculum, 
  • design instruction that will cultivate reading achievement, 
  • have strategic conversations about students’ reading challenges, progress, and success.  

The CPRA includes the following sections, which encompass topics supported through research, that impact student reading achievement:

  • Transformative Equity Practices
  • Science of Reading
  • Definition of High-Quality Reading Instruction
  • K-3 Literacy:
    • Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices in Early Reading
    • Leadership
    • Standards-Aligned Instruction
    • Assessment
    • Resources 

At the state-level, we plan to support districts with implementation and use of the plan to enhance instruction for ALL students to improve reading achievement by:

  • providing resources on the current science of reading,
  • providing professional development on high-quality reading instruction, and
  • providing technical support.

More information about upcoming webinars to support educators’ use and application of the CPRA will be released soon.

What is the Science of Reading? 

What is the Science of Reading?

  • Converging evidence provided by research about how humans learn to read
  • Reading is not a natural, innate ability like language
  • Learning to read requires: 
    • Development of foundational oral language and literacy skills;
    • Explicit, systematic, sequential instruction in the 5 essential components - phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension;
    • High-quality reading instruction founded in evidence-based best practices.

Why is Science Important?

  • Failure to read by 9 years of age forecasts a lifetime of illiteracy for at least 70 percent of struggling readers (Shaywitz, 2003)
  • The majority of children who enter kindergarten and elementary school at risk for reading failure can learn to read at average or above-average levels—if they are identified early and receive systematic, intensive instruction in the 5 essential components of reading (Lyon et al., 2001; Torgesen, 2002a)