Giving Compass' Take:

• Writing for The 74, North Carolina's public schools superintendent Mark Johnson stresses the importance of early childhood literacy, particularly for low-income students. He also calls for more accountability and transparency for how state agencies spend education funds.

• With all the focus on STEM, are early childhood literacy programs getting enough attention? In North Carolina, the Read to Achieve program provides funding for expert literacy training for K-3 teachers. More orgs could follow its model.

• Don't forget the roles that behavioral science and parent interventions play in developing reading skills. This article gives a little more background.

I am North Carolina’s public schools superintendent — I’m also the father of a 5-year-old about to enter kindergarten. My wife and I work with her so that she can recognize her letters and numbers, hold a pencil, and know how to behave in class to learn best from her teacher. I don’t just preach the importance of early childhood literacy, I practice it every day.

Unfortunately, many students, often depending on their backgrounds, are not where educators need them to be when they start the school year. This is especially true for students who come from poverty. Impoverished parents, like their children, face many additional challenges that can make helping their young ones overcome the achievement gap even more difficult. Less than half of our fourth graders in North Carolina have the reading skills they need, according to 2015 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card. This trend is sadly consistent across our nation.

So it’s incumbent on us at the state level, particularly in the new Every Student Succeeds Act era, to enable and empower educators and parents to build a strong foundation on which all students can stand to ensure that they are reading proficiently by the end of the third grade. All states must make early childhood education a priority not only to benefit the future of each student, but for the future of our nation. If we aren’t preparing all students for success, the United States will fail to connect students with the careers and opportunities waiting for them in our 21st century economy.

Read the full article about the importance of early literacy by Mark Johnson at The 74.