Colorado’s READ Act has a Positive Impact, Report Shows

Written by: Leslie Colwell
Date Posted: July 17, 2015

Early literacy programs and interventions created by a 2012 law are making a measurable difference, according to a new study. The statewide percentage of kindergarten through third grade students identified with a “significant reading deficiency” dropped from 16 percent in 2013 to 14 percent in 2014, a decrease of 4,950 students.

The study was commissioned by Colorado Succeeds in partnership with several other local advocacy groups and foundations, including the Children’s Campaign. The report’s authors compared assessment data from the 2013-14 school year (the first of implementation) with 2014-15 data, in addition to surveying 120 school districts and conducting a few in-depth case studies.

The report concluded that all demographic subgroups experienced declines in the percentage of students with significant reading deficiencies, with the exception of special education students. The number of students in various at-risk categories with a significant deficiency is still significantly higher than their peers. However, the overall trends are encouraging because they show we know what works, and provide lessons for how to ensure all kids have access to these interventions.

The report identifies four factors that contributed to the success of schools in the first year: (1) the systematic use of student performance data; (2) quality professional development of teachers and staff aligned to the READ Act; (3) the use of high-quality instructional materials from the list of recommendations provided by CDE; and (4) following the goals and mandates of the READ Act.

Colorado’s READ Act was passed in 2012 with the goal of having all students reading at grade level by the end of third grade. It requires literacy evaluations of K-3 students at the beginning of each school year and progress monitoring throughout the year, with the creation of individual reading plans for students identified with significant deficiencies. In 2014, 71 percent of Colorado students scored proficient or above in reading.

Read the full report, “The Colorado READ Act: An Evaluation of Implementation and Outcomes After Year One.”

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Leslie Colwell

About Leslie Colwell

Leslie Colwell serves as the Vice President of K-12 Education Initiatives, leading the Campaign’s work to improve education in the state of Colorado. Before joining the Children’s Campaign in August of 2014, Leslie worked to facilitate partnerships and produce policy agreements, especially in the area of education as an Associate at The Keystone Center. Her professional experience includes working as Legislative Director for State Senator Mike Johnston, managing his education policy portfolio (including his office’s work on HB12-1238, Colorado’s READ Act, and SB13-033, ASSET), and directing a policy fellowship for educators for three summers. Leslie has also worked on Teach For America’s alumni team, and before that taught 6th grade Math and Earth Science as a TFA corps member at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) and on the steering committee of the Colorado Afterschool Partnership.