According to a policy framework in early education, B-3 (birth to third grade), most U.S. states provide a “fragmented, uncoordinated early education non-system.”* The framework is based on the research and assessment of an education team at New America, a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy think tank. Each state has received a categorical rating of “crawling, toddling, or walking.” Within the categorical range, Maine is considered to be in the barely “toddling,” or “just took their first step” stage.
The Frameworkis divided into five areas that state educational policies cover:educators(teachers and leaders); standards, assessment, and data; equitable funding; pre-K access and quality; full-day K access and quality; dual language learner supports;andthird grade reading laws. Each of the areas was assigned points after the data was compiled and analyzed.Educators(analyzed within this report) received the most possible points whiledual languageandthird grade reading lawsthe fewest.
Educators: Teachers and Leadersis the area where teacher and leader quality, based on preparation and licensure, was examined. Maine meets many of these expectations. However, of greatest interest to NCTE members may be the singular focus on teacher preparation in the “science of reading,” i.e., explicit phonics. Maine and many other states do not meetNew America’sexpectations here.
Although the narrow discussion of reading pedagogy in theNew Americapolicy framework comes under language and literacy, there isnoadditional discussion of reading and no discussion at all of writing, speaking, or listening. This is in contrast with numerous NCTE Position Statements**, including the Position Statement on the Students’ Right to Read; the Guidelines on Reading, Learning to Read, and Effective Reading Instruction; the Resolution on a Print Rich Environment; the Resolution on the Reading First Initiative; the Resolution on Phonics as Part of Reading Instruction; the Position Statement on Multiple Literacies; the Position Statement on Interdisciplinary Learning Pre-K to Grade 4; the Position Statement on NCTE Beliefs on Students’ Right to Write; the NCTE Guideline on the Professional Knowledge on the Teaching of Writing; as well as various resolutions about language and its instruction.
Teacher evaluation systems are considered, but not defined within the Educator area and are partially reflective of school leaders. The NCTE Position Statement on Teacher Evaluation promotes a multifaceted teacher evaluation and emphasizes professional growth. Further, according to the Resolution on Challenging Current Education Policy and Affirming Literacy Educators’ Expertise, there should be an end to evaluating teachers and schools based on children’s test scores. Teachers should be judged by observations; teacher portfolios; parent responses; and increases in student achievement as evidenced bycurriculum-based authentic assessments.
A comprehensive B-3 policy, as envisioned by New America, needs input from professional literacy education associations before states like Maine need respond.
*All quotations are from:From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth-3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers.
**NCTE Position Statements can be found on the NCTE website.