Virtually nothing educators can do will make a child successful in school if he or she can't read well. That is why the scores of components in the state's school reform campaign all come down to reading.
Last week state Board of Education members approved West Virginia participation in the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading. It targets children from low-income families in an effort to ensure they can read at "grade level" by the end of third grade.
That dovetails with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's focus on how well students read at the end of their third-grade years in school.
About 70 percent of Mountain State children cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade, the Kids Count organization reports. No wonder so many continue to lag behind in all subjects, too often dropping out of school altogether.
State school board officials are right to make reading a priority. Now, they must monitor the initiative and insist on results - or try something else.