Stand Releases 2017 State of Literacy in CO

Literacy | 11/01/2017

Kate Dando Doran
Director of Communications

More than 60% of CO 4th graders not reading proficiently

Denver, Colorado, November 2, 2017 –  Stand for Children Colorado released the 2017 State of Literacy in Colorado today. The report analyzes the most recent student achievement data on a variety of measures and identifies gaps in implementation and student outcomes that if closed could have a profound impact on improving Colorado’s literacy rates.

The State of Literacy in Colorado explores different measures of how as a state, we are preparing students to read proficiently by the end of third grade, a well-established, critical milestone for a child’s academic success. Data were analyzed from a variety of sources, including the state measures of students with a significant reading deficiency (SRD), English Language Arts portion of the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessment, the reading portion of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), college remediation rates, and adult literacy rates.  The report also includes some feedback from educators received during a statewide listening tour about literacy instruction and implementation of Colorado’s early literacy policy the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act. More comprehensive findings from these listening sessions will be released later this year.

“The bottom line is that Colorado must to do more to improve early literacy rates. The ability to read is the most critical skill a student needs to develop in order to be successful and, yet, we continue to see persistent and unacceptable achievement gaps in every measure of reading and related skills -- especially for students living in poverty and students of color, regardless of the district’s size or geographic location,” said Jeani Frickey Saito, Executive Director at Stand for Children Colorado. “The good news is that Colorado has a strong foundation with an early literacy policy that, when implemented with fidelity, is making a dramatic impact for our most struggling readers.”

The READ Act is focused on identifying and supporting students in Kindergarten through third grade who are struggling the most with reading. The first group of students to receive the full benefit of the READ Act, meaning scientifically based reading support from kindergarten through third grade, had a 60.1% reduction in the prevalence of significant reading deficiencies at the end of third grade. However, the data show, and educators affirm, that Colorado needs to do even more to meet the literacy needs of all students.

The report identifies three gaps in implementation and student outcomes, which if addressed properly, could be game changing toward the goals of all students reading proficiently by the end of third grade and eventually graduating high school prepared for college or career. Those gaps are:

  1. Implementation of the READ Act is inconsistent.
  2. There are no state resources for “gap students,” those students who are below proficient but are not identified as having a significant reading deficiency (SRD).
  3. Struggling readers past third grade do not have adequate supports. Related, teachers need more support and professional development to help older, struggling readers.

This winter Stand for Children Colorado will release recommendations for policy changes to expand the READ Act. These recommendations will serve as the foundation for 2018 legislation to continue improving literacy outcomes for Colorado students.


Stand for Children Colorado is deeply committed to improving literacy rates in Colorado. Since 2012, when we worked as part of a coalition advocating for the READ Act, we have worked on a variety of efforts to support Colorado’s readers. In 2016, after studying what could be done to better support educators responsible for teaching reading, we published “Improving Early Literacy in Colorado,Realizing the Promise of the READ Act” a report that outlined three specific recommendations for regulatory improvements. In the Spring of 2016, we launched Read Now Colorado, an online resource to support parents across Colorado as they help their children develop literacy skills. We have also hosted literacy workshops for parents of students attending school in Southwest Denver. Learn more about our work here.

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  • Thank you for your continued support of early literacy and the Colorado READ Act.
    Alisa Dorman

    November 3, 2017 8:09 AM