Early Literacy Stabilize. Innovate. Build.
Why Early Literacy Matters
Only 46% of Montana’s kids in school are reading at or above grade-level. That means less than half of students are meeting a crucial marker.
One of the best ways to set children up for success in school and life is through early learing and literacy. Children’s brains are rapidly developing in their first five years of life, which is why exposure to quality early learning is critical. Literacy gaps appear in children well before they enter kindergarten, yet 1 in 3 kids will enter school without those skills.Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is a crucial marker in a child’s educational development and is a predictor of later life outcomes.
Montana Board of Public Education
Early Literacy Advisory Council
The Montana Early Literacy Advisory Council (ELAC) is working hard to ensure our state’s newest literacy programming for our youngest citizens will be off to a good start in 2024.
ELAC, formed in September, is a 15-member council comprised of administrators from various school districts, teachers, higher education faculty, education-focused organizations and the Office of Public Instruction. It is facilitated by McCall Flynn, Executive Director of the Montana Board of Public Education and Caitlin Jensen, Executive Director of Zero to Five Montana. ELAC has developed draft rules for the Board of Public Education for the implementation of HB 352, Rep. Brad Barker’s bill to provide targeted interventions to support 3rd grade reading proficiency. The proposed rules outline the evaluation methodology to qualify a child’s participation in programming, a framework for the (summer) jumpstart program and requirements for the home-based program.
As required in HB 352, the Board of Public Education, the Office of Public Instruction, and the boards of trustees of Montana school districts will collaborate and prepare for the full implementation of early literacy programs in the school year beginning July 1, 2024, with eligibility determination beginning in the spring.
For more information on the advisory council, see https://bpe.mt.gov/Advisory-Councils
Office of Public Instruction
Early Literacy Collaborative
OPI’s Early Literacy Collaborative will foster cooperation between government agencies, schools, families, educators, educator preparation programs, and communities. The focus of the OPI’s Collaborative will be to provide guidance for implementation of the school jumpstart programs, classroom interventions, and home-based literacy intervention programs for eligible students aged four years old and not yet in third grade. In addition, the Collaborative will provide data and feedback to the Board of Public Education’s Early Literacy Advisory Council.
To learn more visit: https://opi.mt.gov/Educators/Teaching-Learning/Literacy/Early-Literacy
Evaluation Methodology and Screening
78% of Montana voters believe state government
should play a role in providing a public early education option.
- Early Literacy in Montana and HB 352 (Zero to Five Montana)
- The Bedrock of American Business – High Quality Early Childhood Education (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
- Early Childhood Education: Quality and Access Pay Off (Heckman)
- Invest in Early Childhood Development: Reduce Deficits, Strengthen the Economy (Heckman)
- Learning to Read: Reading to Learn (National School Boards Association)
- Early Childhood: High Return on Investment (The Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Penn Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania)
- Studies show long-term benefits of quality preschool exceed costs (Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes)
- The State of Preschool Yearbook 2021 (National Institute for Early Education Research)
- Early Literacy (American Academy of Pediatrics)