Gov. Reynolds announces Iowa schools continue to make progress in reading
A new early literacy blueprint for teachers will help support this work
DES MOINES – For the third year in a row, Iowa has made progress in improving the reading skills of students in kindergarten through third grade, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today, along with a new early literacy blueprint to strengthen teachers’ skills in reading instruction.
The share of Iowa students in kindergarten through third grade who met or surpassed benchmarks used to measure statewide progress in reading increased from 69.7 percent to 70.5 percent from fall 2017 to spring 2018 – and has climbed nearly 7 percentage points since 2015.
“We must prepare all students for success beyond high school so they can pursue rewarding careers, and their success starts with the ability to read,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud that Iowa schools are seeing steady progress in their efforts to catch and address reading problems in children as early as kindergarten.”
Iowa school districts and nonpublic schools screen K-3 students in reading three times a year as part of a 2012 law that focuses on making sure all students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Through an early warning system developed by the Iowa Department of Education, area education agencies and school districts, teachers screen children’s reading skills, adapt instruction individually for students identified as at risk, and monitor their progress. Schools also work with parents to help students at home to improve reading skills.
“Early literacy is essential because students who struggle to read early on are more likely to drop out of school, less likely to pursue postsecondary education and training, and less likely to earn a living wage,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “If our schools can maintain steady student growth in reading, we will see a dramatic shift in Iowa’s reading results over time and our students will have a better chance of success in school and in life.”
Reynolds also announced today that Iowa will build on its early literacy progress with a new blueprint to help teachers improve the quality of their reading instruction.
Iowa legislators this year set aside over $300,000 for the blueprint, which equips teachers with effective literacy practices, strengthens their instructional skills, and provides schools a starting point for evaluating literacy plans and ensuring developmental milestones are met. The initiative, led by the Iowa Reading Research Center, includes professional development delivered through a training-of-trainers approach.
The blueprint also leverages Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) System because many of the literacy leaders who have been trained to deliver professional development to teachers in their home school districts or area education agency regions this school year are also teacher leaders in the TLC system.
“We know that improving students’ literacy proficiency starts with the instruction they receive in the classroom from their teachers,” said Iowa Reading Research Center Director Deborah Reed. “The blueprint will equip teachers with the knowledge, evidence-based literacy practices, and support necessary to teach their students to become better readers during this crucial early period.”