Skip to main content
Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know

Early Literacy Initiative

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

In Iowa, nearly one in four Iowa third-graders are not proficient in reading. Therefore, 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 simpler to remediate, putting children back on track for success.

Reading Resources:


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.

Early Literacy Implementation (ELI)

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