Skip to Content

Early Literacy Law

Some elements on this page will be updated soon to reflect recent legislation.

The ability to read is a fundamental component of success in school and in life. While reading at all grade levels is important, third grade is observed as the gateway when students are expected to go beyond “learning to read” and begin “reading to learn.” Research shows reading successfully by the end of third grade is an important predictor of school success. Early reading difficulties have been linked to long-term consequences, such as dropping out of school.

In Iowa, nearly one in four Iowa third-graders is not proficient in reading. This is why the Iowa Legislature adopted a comprehensive early literacy law that focuses on making sure all students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade so they are prepared for academic success in fourth grade and beyond.

Iowa schools, area education agencies and the Iowa Department of Education have responded to the law with a focus on prevention of reading difficulties and early intervention. Problems identified early are easier to remediate, putting children back on track for success.

Requirements

Iowa’s early literacy law includes:

  • An early warning system to screen students in kindergarten through third grade to identify students at risk for reading difficulties in those grades.
  • Providing research-based intervention and progress monitoring to get struggling readers back on track.
  • Communication between schools and parents of children who are struggling.
  • Intensive summer reading programs starting in May 2018 for struggling readers at the end of third grade.
  • Possible retention at the end of third grade for students who are identified as persistently at risk in reading based on the school’s screening assessment, who were not proficient in reading on the state assessment, who did not complete a summer program, and who do not qualify for an exemption. Retention will not be considered for any third-grade student who is eligible for - and completes - a summer reading program, nor for any student who qualifies for an exemption.

Early Literacy Implementation (ELI)

Information and resources for school districts are available on the Early Literacy Implementation webpage.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on June 29, 2017 at 9:07am.