Nashville has a blueprint to address early literacy

By Josephine Appleby and Rene Dillard
April 2021
Developing early reading skills is important for long-term academic success. Too often, however, young children do not have the foundations of literacy they need. One-third of Tennessee students read on grade level (Tennessee Department of Education, 2021), and in the state’s capital city of Nashville, three out of four 3rd graders are not reading on grade level. These students represent some of the most vulnerable populations — students of color and English learners. In response to the critical need to improve early literacy, a coalition of community partners developed Nashville’s Blueprint for Early Childhood Success to identify key levers and align city resources to achieve strong results. Over 200 community leaders, national experts, and researchers spent more than six months developing the six pillars of

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Tennessee Department of Education. (2021). State of Tennessee 2018-19 achievement – ELA.

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Josephine Appleby ( is the pre-K professional learning program director at the Ayers Institute, Lipscomb University College of Education.

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René Dillard ( is the manager of early literacy at United Way of Greater Nashville.

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