Ready for reading

By Sharon Roberts
April 2020
Vol 41, No. 2
Across the U.S., educators face a common challenge: How can we help all students become strong readers and writers? The 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called the Nation’s Report Card, showed that there is no state where the majority of 4th grade students are proficient in reading, and only eight jurisdictions have at least 40% of students reaching proficiency (The Nation’s Report Card, 2019a). In my state of Tennessee, many educators believe we have a reading crisis. Two-thirds of 3rd graders do not read and write on grade level as measured by our statewide assessment (Tennessee Department of Education, 2019a). That figure is in line with the NAEP results showing that only 35% of our 4th graders are proficient in reading, a

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Sharon Roberts

Sharon Roberts ( is chief K-12 impact officer at the State Collaborative on Reforming Education in Tennessee.

Resource from LIFT

The LIFT Network website ( includes materials to help educators further early literacy work in their schools and districts.


  • The Science of Reading: This report lays out misconceptions about reading instruction, shares critical research headlines to inform decisions, and offers suggestions to end the reading crisis.
  • Annual reports: Three reports summarize the results and lessons learned from the LIFT literacy projects.


  • Instructional Materials Implementation Guidebook.
  • Instructional Practice Guide: K-5 Literacy.
  • Text Quality Criteria and Text Complexity Qualitative Measures Rubrics for fiction and nonfiction texts.


LIFT Education. (2017, September). Early literacy implementation work (Annual Report).

LIFT Education. (2018, September). Going deeper with early literacy implementation (Annual Report).

LIFT Education. (2019, October). Sustaining our progress in early literacy (Annual Report).

The Nation’s Report Card. (2019a). Data tools: State profiles: National Assessment of Educational Progress, grade 4 reading, Tennessee. Author’s calculations.

The Nation’s Report Card. (2019b). Data tools: State profiles: National Assessment of Educational Progress, grade 4 reading.

SCORE. (2020a). Expanding Student Success: 2020 State of Education in Tennessee, 28-30.
SCORE. (2020b, Winter). The Science of Reading.

SCORE. (2020c). Urgency for Literacy: How Tennessee Can Deliver Student Reading Success, 8-9.
Tennessee Department of Education. (2019a). Data downloads & requests: State assessments: Assessment files: 2019.

Tennessee Department of Education. (2019b). Section E adoption list 2019.

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