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The Effects of Early Literacy Policies on Student Achievement

Given the importance of early literacy to long-term student success, by 2021, 41 states and the District of Columbia adopted early literacy policies to improve student literacy by the end of third grade. We use an event-study approach to examine the impact of these policies on high- and low-stakes test scores. Our results suggest that adopting an early literacy policy improves elementary students’ reading achievement on high-stakes assessments, particularly in third grade and in states with comprehensive early literacy policies and third-grade retention requirements. We also find suggestive evidence that early literacy policies reduce socioeconomic and racial high-stakes achievement gaps in reading and have positive spillover effects on math achievement. However, we find little evidence of significant gains in low-stakes test scores except in states with comprehensive policies. Our findings highlight the importance of content and incentives for early literacy policies.

accountability, early literacy, reading, retention, student achievement
Education level
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EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Westall, John, and Amy Cummings. (). The Effects of Early Literacy Policies on Student Achievement. (EdWorkingPaper: 23-788). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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