Focusing on Early Literacy
We know that third grade is typically the year where students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Multiple studies have confirmed the importance of third grade reading proficiency as a predictor of school and career success. Third graders who aren’t proficient readers are four times more likely to drop out of school. The Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) results from the spring of 2019 indicate that 52% of Colorado fourth grade students are not reading at grade level, and unacceptably large achievement gaps exist when these data are disaggregated by race and income status.
Yet there is momentum in Colorado to ensure more children have access to the high-quality early learning experiences that set them on the path to school success.
Recent Policy Success
The Children’s Campaign was a lead supporter of the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act (House Bill 1238), passed by the legislature in 2012 to help struggling readers in grades K-3 by supporting teachers with research-proven assessment and intervention strategies. Early Literacy Grants provide funding to districts for literacy assessments, professional development, and instructional support. Teachers assess all early-grade learners and create individualized plans for students with reading deficiencies. The act also created a decision-making team, which includes a struggling student’s parent, teacher, and principal, to determine whether a student with a significant reading deficiency is likely to maintain academic progress if promoted to the next grade level.