Districts prepare for Aug. 1 early literacy deadline
Early literacy efforts in Iowa are ramping up.
The goal, which the Legislature put in place in 2012, is to ensure that students are proficient in reading by the time they finish third grade. That is a particularly important benchmark.
“Research shows that if students are behind in reading by the end of third grade, it can have long-term effects,” said Amy Williamson, chief of the Bureau of School Improvement at the Iowa Department of Education. “The potential consequences are broad, from dropping out of high school to lower future earning potential.”
According to research funded by the Annie E. Foundation:
- Up to half of the fourth grade curriculum is incomprehensible to those who are not proficient readers by the end of third grade.
- Three-quarters of poor readers at the end of third grade will remain poor readers in high school.
- Students who have low literacy achievement are more likely to have behavioral and social problems later on.
All districts are required to have in place reading supports, including research-based reading assessments and interventions for struggling readers.
Districts may choose their own assessments from a list provided by the Department of Education, or they may choose an assessment that the state is providing free of cost.
“These assessments, which take very little instructional time, are designed to help teachers identify struggling readers and determine effective courses of action,” Williamson said.
Districts should be planning to implement the new law. Specifically, districts:
- Should register in March for summer training sessions, if the district is planning on using the state’s no-cost assessment.
- Should review the Early Literacy Implementation webpage on the Department of Education’s website, where there is everything from the list of approved assessments to a Q-and-A.
- Be ready to implement on Aug. 1, as per state law.
Williamson said the heavy workload this year in getting everything in place will pay off – for the students.
“This work in literacy is critical to the future well-being of Iowa’s students,” she said. “Becoming a proficient reader is key to success in school and success in life.”