CCSSO Releases Report on Actions States Can Take to Improve Reading Skills

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Washington, D.C. (February 3, 2021) – The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released a paper with key recommendations for state leaders looking to improve reading skills for all students in their state.

A Nation of Readers: How state chiefs can help every child learn to read,” recommends four concrete actions state leaders can take to address critical gaps in reading skills and give all children the best opportunity to become successful readers and succeed in school.

Those actions are:

  • Articulate a coherent vision for improving literacy.
  • Align state education agency organization, staffing, and practices to support reading as a foundational driver of equity and achievement.
  • Provide guidance to districts and schools regarding aligning curricula, assessment, and professional learning to evidenced-based practices.
  • Engage college and university partners to support the state reading strategy.


The report also includes more specific steps for each action and examples of how these actions are being implemented in states across the country.

The recommendations in the paper come from ideas raised at CCSSO’s Literacy Summit. That event, held in January 2020, was convened to address the troubling trends in literacy scores.

“State chiefs play an instrumental role in setting the vision for a statewide effort to improve reading skills for all students,” said CCSSO Chief Executive Officer Carissa Moffat Miller. “At CCSSO, we recognize the sense of urgency around the issue as reading is a foundational skill that every child needs to ensure success later in life. CCSSO led a national conversation more than a year ago, and the issue has only become more critical as a global pandemic has interrupted learning for so many students. We must give every student a strong start in reading to ensure equitable education opportunities, and CCSSO’s new A Nation of Readers report provides guidance on how states can take action today to make this a reality.”

The report was released today during CCSSO’s virtual event, “A Nation of Readers.” The event featured state chiefs and experts discussing the report and state actions, and included remarks by British A. Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy; Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow; Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key; and Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright.

Learn more about CCSSO’s work at


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

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