The Colorado Sun published an article looking at the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act and literacy rates in Colorado. It’s no secret that we are strong supporters of the policy behind the READ Act. 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 READ Act 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.
We’ve been saying for several years that implementation of the policy across the state is uneven and that we need to do a better job supporting Colorado’s educators in their work to teach students how to read. The success of the Early Literacy Grant program is an indicator that when districts implement the policy with fidelity that the results for students follow.
The READ Act was passed in 2012 and work has been done to update and strengthen the policy. In fact, last session, Representative Mille Hamner led the effort to make some important updates to the READ Act. HR 1393 allows deeper investment in professional development and coaching for educators, expands opportunities within the Early Literacy Grant Program, and also calls for recommendations on how to improve READ Plans - the individualized support plans for students identified as having a significant reading deficiency.
Are literacy rates in Colorado where they need to be? Absolutely not. We have a great deal of work to do, but the READ Act focuses on the right things and it is time to ensure that districts are utilizing this vital investment in accordance with the statutory requirements. The bottom line is we need to do more to ensure that educators are supported, implementation of the law is happening systemically, and precious resources are making it to students most at risk and improving their outcomes.