Education Department Release: Oklahoma ranks second nationally in elementary reading expectations

Staff Report 
A new report shows Oklahoma is making significant strides in setting high expectations for student academic proficiency, rising to second in the nation in expectations for elementary-level reading, according to a press release from state government officials. 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results were revealed just as the state Education Department plans to train more teachers who work with young readers. 

In a state-by-state comparison, NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, ranked Oklahoma second in the country in expectations for fourth-grade reading and seventh for eighth-grade reading for 2019. Oklahoma ranked 15th and 14th respectively in the study from 2017. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s rankings remained consistent for math. The last two studies ranked Oklahoma in the top third of states for fourth-grade math and ranked fifth in the nation for eighth-grade math. 

In the view of state Department officials, the 2019 results ( released this month, “build upon gains made in the study after the implementation of the Oklahoma Academic Standards in 2016. Oklahoma ranked 41st out of 47 states for fourth-grade reading under the old standards in 2015.”

In a press release from the agency, sent to and other news organizations, state Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said, “We are narrowing the gap for national comparability in expectations for student performance. We have made extraordinary progress in the last four years, rising from 41st to second in the country,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Now that we have set our expectations high, we are pleased that a new initiative will ensure teachers have advanced training and strategies based on the science of reading to achieve those goals.” 

As part of Ready Together Oklahoma: An Action Plan for Supporting Students Through the Pandemic and Beyond (, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in July will begin offering no-cost professional development in early childhood literacy for 10,000 teachers over the next three years. All teachers who work with K-3 students on reading, spelling and related language skills are eligible for the program. 

The Education Department press release said the Oklahoma Science of Reading professional development is funded by the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and will contain: 

    • In-depth knowledge based on the most current research regarding what, when and how language skills need to be taught 
    • Ways to assess student language development for prevention and intervention 
    • Guidance on how to plan and balance word recognition and compression instruction 
    • Information on how to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students 

The “science of reading” is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically based research about issues related to reading and writing derived from experts from multiple fields including education, cognitive psychology, communication sciences, linguistics and neuroscience.

The OSDE program is a two-year commitment with both self-paced learning and learning sessions with a facilitator. Teachers will need to plan for about an hour a week during the school year in order to complete the program.

For more information about the Oklahoma Science of Reading professional development program teachers are encouraged to fill out an interest survey (