RALEIGH -- As education continues to draw political attention, state lawmakers and community leaders are looking at how early childhood development between birth and age 8 play a role in ensuring a student's reading proficiency by third grade.

This is especially timely after the Read to Achieve program implemented last year. It's part of a law requiring third graders to read at grade level before they enter fourth grade.

"Early learning is so important and by early learning we mean the years from birth to 8 and understanding that that is a critical developmental period of which third grade reading is a milestone that marks that but to get there you have to begin from birth," said Tracy Zimmerman, executive director of NC Early Childhood Foundation.

State lawmakers have talked about granting more flexibility to school districts to offer reading camps to students before third grade.

Supporters believe it's a step in the right direction, but more programs need to be in place before a child enters the classroom.