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Early Literacy Implementation (ELI)


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Legal Requirements

Note: This Guidance is current as of March 30, 2018

Iowa Code 279.68 and Iowa Administrative Code 281-62 promote effective evidence-based programming, instruction, and assessment practices across schools to support all students to become proficient readers by the end of the third grade. General requirements are:

  • Provision of universal screening in reading for students in kindergarten through third grade
  • Progress monitoring for students who are at risk and persistently at risk in reading
  • Provision of intensive instruction – including 90 minutes daily of scientific, research-based reading instruction - for students who are persistently at risk in reading
  • Notice to parents that a student is persistently at risk in reading, including strategies the parents can use at home to help the child succeed
  • Notice to parents of such a student’s subsequent progress


The purpose of the guidance documents are to aid Iowa’s public school districts in (1) interpreting and implementing Iowa Code 279.68, and (2) determining how best to use the funds provided by this code.

  1. Early Literacy Guidance (2018-03-30) provides the specific requirements and permitted actions by public school districts, frequently asked questions, and definition of terms.
  2. Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices (2020-01-06) are to be used as companion technical assistance to Iowa’s official guidance for 279.68. This document will be continually updated throughout the year, and revised versions will be highlighted for the user. Appendices are organized by topic:
    • Appendix A: Assessment: Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring - Appendix A lists the approved tools for universal screening and progress monitoring and includes information on the universal screening window, benchmarks, and using another approved assessment for individual students.
    • Appendix B: Continuous Improvement - Appendix B contains tools for systemic reflection to be used within a collaborative inquiry process. These tools initially focus on the analysis of universal screening and progress monitoring data within early literacy.
    • Appendix C: Data Reporting - Appendix C provides technical assistance for the data reporting requirements of ELI, updates to procedures for reporting data, and tips to navigate the state supported data system and assessments.
    • Appendix D: Early Childhood - Appendix D includes information about preschool and kindergarten, GOLD and IGDIs data, Iowa Core and Iowa Early Learning Standards, and programming decisions that impact assessment, curriculum, and instruction.
    • Appendix E: Finance - Appendix F contains ELI Budget Guidance, application for funds, and budget contact information.
    • Appendix F: Intensive Intervention and Core Instruction - ;Appendix F includes resources on the intensification of instruction, a list of reviewed interventions and criteria, links to the Iowa Reading Research Center pertaining to core instruction, and tools for determining intervention success for students and systems (return-on-investment).
    • Appendix G: Parent/Guardian Notification - Appendix G contains links to example parent/guardian letters, contracts, and meeting guidance, as well as the link to the Parent (Guardian) Resources tab within the Iowa Reading Research Center website.
    • Appendix H: Persistently at Risk - Appendix H contains the technical assistance documents to support teacher observation and portfolio review as well as resources to understand literacy status (Adequately Progressing, At Risk, and Persistently at Risk) and multiple graphic displays of “how-to-think-about” missing or incomplete data.
    • Appendix I: Specific Student Populations - Appendix I will provide technical assistance regarding specific student populations, including special education students, students with disabilities, students who are blind/visually impaired and deaf/hard of hearing, English learners, non-public students, homeschool (dual-enrolled/HSAP) students, students with dyslexia, and students whose parents/guardians wish to refuse assessment and/or intervention.

Support Materials

Successful Progression for Early Readers (ELI) Funding

The Iowa Legislature appropriated $8 million for implementation of Iowa Code Section 279.68 - Early Literacy Progression for school years 2013-2014 through 2016-2017. The appropriated amount was reduced to $7.8 million for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. When available, the application for these funds is found on the IowaGrants website. Prior year's applications are found under "archived opportunities."

2015-2016 ELI Allocations

2016-2017 ELI Allocations

2017-2018 ELI Allocations

2018-2019 ELI Allocations

2019-2020 ELI Allocations

2020-2021 ELI Allocations

2021-2022 ELI Allocations

2022-2023 ELI Allocations

2023-2024 ELI Allocations (available September 2023)