I am very excited to share with you a BIG win for Colorado students related to improving early literacy! This week the State Board of Education voted 7-0 to add a literacy-specific component to the exams for teacher licensure in Colorado. This is a tremendous victory that will help ensure that teachers are better prepared to support students in learning to read. We have been working toward this since making the recommendation to add a literacy-specific exam for licensure in our 2016 report, Improving Early Literacy in Colorado: Realizing the Dream of the READ Act.
We are grateful for the true partnership of educators across Colorado who have been elevating the need for more training and support in applying scientifically backed approaches in their classrooms as well as staff at the Colorado Department of Education. Please be sure to read educator, Heidi Batchelder’s op-ed in the Colorado Sun this week: It’s time for Colorado’s teachers to “know better” about the science of reading. She says, “This is why I am energized that the State Board of Education on Wednesday is scheduled to consider a recommendation to help ensure future educators are prepared to teach reading using scientifically based approaches, through an additional licensure test that more specifically assesses a candidate’s knowledge of the five key areas of reading development.”
We believe that this change, combined with the teacher training in the science of reading required by legislation passed in 2019 and being offered now by the Colorado Department of Education and the continued implementation of the READ Act will lead to improved outcomes for students. We’ve heard from so many educators that they felt unprepared by their teacher preparation programs to teach students how to read using the science of reading. We have some cause for optimism with updates to curriculum and approach to teaching reading instruction from some teacher preparation programs. We also appreciate the State Board of Education’s continued focus and prioritization of early literacy. We are proud to have supported the election of several education champions on the State Board and look forward to continuing the implementation of this important work.
Reading is arguably the most important and foundational skill to set students up for success throughout their education and life. We will continue fighting for better supports for educators because that it is a very important step toward our goal of early literacy for all students.