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Early Literacy Implementation (ELI)


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Legal Requirements

Note: This statute has been amended effective July 1, 2016 and the DE is updating guidance accordingly.  Please check back for updates.

Iowa Code section 279.68 and 281--Iowa Administrative Code 62 promote effective evidence-based programming, instruction and assessment practices across schools to support all students to become proficient readers by the end of the third grade. General requirements of Iowa Code section 279.68 and 281--Iowa Administrative Code 62 are listed below. All requirements go into effect immediately and are expected to be implemented no later than August 1, 2014 unless otherwise indicated.

  • Provision of universal screening in reading for students in kindergarten through third grade
  • Progress monitoring for students who exhibit a substantial deficiency in reading
  • Provision of intensive instruction – including 90 minutes daily of scientific, research-based reading instruction - for students who exhibit a substantial deficiency in reading
  • Notice to parents that a student exhibits a substantial deficiency in reading, including strategies the parents can use at home to help the child succeed
  • Notice to parents of such a student’s subsequent progress
  • Provision of an evidence-based summer reading program for students who exhibit a substantial deficiency in reading (Effective May 1, 2017)
  • Retention of any student who is not proficient in reading by the end of the third grade, did not attend the summer reading program, and does not qualify for a good cause exemption from the retention requirement (Effective May 1, 2017)

Early Literacy Retention Guidance

Early Literacy Retention Guidance (2016-11-30) contains official guidance for the third-grade retention component of Iowa Code section 279.68.


The purpose of the guidance documents are to aid Iowa’s public school districts in (1) interpreting and implementing Iowa Code section 279.68, and (2) determining how best to use the funds provided by this code.

  1. Early Literacy Guidance (2016-08-31) provides the specific requirements and permitted actions by public school districts, frequently asked questions, and definition of terms.
  2. Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices (2016-08-31) are to be used as companion technical assistance to Iowa’s official guidance for 279.68. This document will be continually updated throughout the year, and revised versions will be highlighted for the user. Appendices are organized by topic:
    1. Assessment: Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring: Includes information on the universal screening window, benchmarks, approved assessments and changing the default progress monitoring measure
    2. Continuous Improvement: Includes general information on continuous improvement as it relates to early literacy, collaborative inquiry questions which serve as the foundation of Iowa’s Continuous School Improvement Process, general guidance around chronic and early absenteeism and information regarding protocols to support schools to identify barriers and address areas of concern within their Comprehensive School Improvement Plan.
    3. Early Childhood: Includes information about preschool and kindergarten, GOLD and IGDIs data, and alignment between the Iowa Core and the Iowa Early Learning Standards specific to English Language Arts and Mathematics.
    4. Finance: Includes ELI Budget Guidance, application for funds, and budget contact information.
    5. Intensive Intervention and Core Instruction: Includes general information on instruction, determining intervention success, links to the Iowa Reading Research Center and information on the reviewed list of interventions.
    6. Iowa TIER and Data Reporting: Includes navigating and trouble-shooting Iowa TIER as well as reporting for districts using DE approved assessments.
    7. Parental Notification: Includes example parent letters, contracts, progress reports to parents as well as notification of enrollment in an intensive summer reading program.
    8. Retention: To be developed.
    9. Student Populations: Includes technical assistance to support specific student populations including students with disabilities, English language learners, non-public students, homeschool [CPI, IPI] students, and students whose parents refuse assessment and/or intervention.
    10. Substantial Deficiency: Includes documents to support teacher observations and substantial deficiency determination.
    11. Summer School: To be developed.

Informational Webinars and Q/A

The Department is sponsoring informational webinars during the 2015-2016 school year to review Iowa Code section 279.68 and 281--Iowa Administrative Code 62. Each month new webinar topics will be available. Links to recorded webinars, presentation slides and other related materials are organized by content area, and available in the Support Materials section of this webpage. Access informational webinars here:
Date Time Topic Materials (if applicable)
12/11/15 3:30-4:30 Overview of ELI Guidance Early Literacy Guidance
Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices
12/16/15 10:30-11:30 Early Childhood Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices, Appendix C
12/17/15 10:30-11:30 Iowa TIER and Data Reporting Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices, Appendix D
3/10/16 3:00-4:30

Finding Meaning in Fluency

Finding Meaning In Fluency Q and A

Research Resources

Support Materials

Topic Appendices Webinar Recording/PowerPoint Related Documents
*Items without hyperlinks are included in Appendix
Overview of ELI Guidance  

Overview of ELI Webinar/PowerPoint

Early Literacy Guidance
Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices
A. Assessment: Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring Appendix A Assessment: US/PM Webinar/PowerPoint

1. Universal screening windows in Appendix A
2. US Benchmarks in Appendix A
3. Approved Literacy Assessments 2016-2017
4. 2016-2017 Universal Screening Windows

5.2017-2018 Universal Screening Windows for Regular School Year

B. Continuous Improvement Appendix B See Differentiated Accountability for the most up-to-date information. 1.Collaborative Inquiry Questions in Appendix B
2. Assessment System Protocol
3. Universal Instruction Protocol
4. Identifying Barriers
C. Early Childhood Appendix C Early Childhood Webinar/PowerPoint
1. Preschool and Kindergarten Guidance in Appendix C
2. Gold and IGDIs abbreviated
3. Gold and IGDIs Nonabbreviated in Appendix C
4. Alignment between Iowa Core and IELS
D. Finance Appendix D N/A 1. ELI Budget Guidance in Appendix D
2. Application for funds
E. Intensive Intervention and Core Instruction Appendix E 1. Determining Intervention Success/PowerPoint
2. Reviewed Intervention List/PowerPoint
1.a. Foormanetal 2003
1.b. Intervention Effectiveness Protocol in Appendix E
2. Early Literacy Interventions Reviewed List
3. Iowa Reading Research Center
F. Iowa TIER and Data-Reporting Appendix F

Iowa TIER and Data-Reporting Webinar/PowerPoint

SIS Data Hygiene
G. Parent Notification Appendix G   1. Parent Notification letter examples in Appendix G
2. Parent Contract letter examples in Appendix G
3. Progress Reports in Appendix G
4. Enrollment in Intensive Summer Reading Program in Appendix G
5. Parent/Guardian Letters in Translation
H. Retention Appendix H Not yet available  
I. Student Populations Appendix I Students with Disabilities Webinar/PowerPoint 1. ELI Alternate Resources and Links
J. Substantial Deficiency Appendix J   1. Teacher Observation Tool
2. Substantial Deficiency matrix and stair step in Appendix J
K. Summer School Appendix K Not yet available  


If you are new to Iowa TIER and not set up for access to the system, please send email questions regarding Iowa TIER access and/or FAST/IGDIs universal screening/progress monitoring administration to and support personnel will get back to you as soon as possible. If you are an existing Iowa TIER user, please submit a support ticket for follow up.

Certification Requirement for Administering FAST/IGDIs

Iowa TIER requires certification in order to administer FAST/IGDIs assessments. The system will prevent a user from administering an assessment if he/she is not certified to administer that particular assessment. Users who are already certified will continue to be certified in 2016-2017, unless a change in location has occurred. New Iowa TIER users may certify at any time. Remember if you certify only on the fall measures, you may need additional certification for IGDIs and early Reading Kindergarten measures during other windows, as some measures are added/changed. You may certify for the entire year’s measures all at once. If you have changed locations or have any difficulty with certification, please have your internal coach submit a ticket with your name, location, and previous location of certification (if applicable).

Useful Links for Iowa TIER Access

The following documents include supports for setting up staff access and other required data elements.

Successful Progression for Early Readers (ELI) Grant

The Iowa Legislature has appropriated $8 million per for implementation of Iowa Code Section 279.68 - Early Literacy Progression for each of the years listed below. When available, the application for these funds is found on the IowaGrants website.

Successful Progression for Early Readers (ELI) Grant Instructions

2013-2014 ELI Allocations

2014-2015 ELI Allocations

2015-2016 ELI Allocations

2016-2017 ELI Allocations



Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 24, 2017 at 1:47am.