I am so happy to share that this morning Governor Polis signed into law important policy changes that we worked on this legislative session to better support students learning to read.
We believe that reading by the end of 3rd grade is a critical milestone and that we need to identify and support students at risk of not reaching that milestone. The Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act, passed in 2012, is grounded in a comprehensive body of research that identifies the most effective ways to teach reading and it also targets state funding to identify and support those students that need it the most. Despite all of this, far too many Colorado students are not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
Senate Bill 199 underscores that K-3 literacy instructional programming needs to be based on evidence and science and include foundational skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency including oral skills, and reading comprehension. It also provides some critical updates to strengthen the READ Act, including:
- An expansion of the Early Literacy Grant program which has shown early promise at improving literacy rates.
- Better supports for educators teaching students to read including trainings in evidence-based instruction and additional professional learning from the Colorado Department of Education at no cost to districts.
- Stronger transparency and accountability for how READ Act funding is being spent. Districts will now provide information about their core and supplemental reading curriculum, their intervention services, and which READ Act aligned assessment and literacy-focused professional development is being used.
- An independent review of literacy programing across the state to identify what is working and share those findings.
We believe this legislation provides impactful changes to our state’s literacy education policy. Thank you to the leadership of Senator Nancy Todd, Senator Bob Rankin, Representative Julie McCluskie and Representative James Wilson for their leadership on behalf of our young readers.