Stepping Stones to Literacy

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Supplemental curriculum designed for preschoolers and kindergarteners having trouble with reading
  • Lesson plans consist of listening, using a range of of print materials, and developing phonological awareness
  • Program consists of twenty-five daily lessons, 10–20 minutes in length
Issue Areas
K-12 education
Target Population
Children under 5, Elementary and middle school-aged children
Cost per Participant
Approximately $240 per student per year

Evidence and impacts


Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse

  • Positive effect on alphabetics, listening, and phonological skills
  • Improved alphabetics outcomes by an average of 30 percentile points

Best practices in implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • To determine which students should receive programming, assessments like the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills should be provided to potential participants.
  • Instructors should follow lesson formats and instruct participating children every day without improvisation or skipped days. Lessons should be paced according to student ability.
  • Instruction should occur in small groups, and instructors should provide children with encouragement and constructive feedback throughout lessons.
  • Instructional support is available in Spanish to help address unique challenges to ESL learners