New Early Literacy Efforts Help All Students Become Skilled Readers

c4kIowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are pleased to be part of a new statewide effort designed to help ALL of our students read proficiently by the end of third grade.

In September, AEA consultants joined with over 600 educators from across Iowa in working together to put in place a practice known as Response to Intervention (RtI). This is a statewide effort through Collaborating for Iowa’s Kids, a partnership among Iowa’s AEAs, school districts and the Iowa Department of Education.

RtI is a proven practice that helps educators identify students who are struggling readers and then offers interventions to help them improve. Teachers can adapt how they are teaching to fit each student’s individual needs and then monitor the student’s progress to identify what is working. About 10 percent of the state’s schools will roll out RtI this fall.

Roughly one in four fourth-graders scored below proficient on the state reading test in 2012. Students who don’t read proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school, according to a 2011 report by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck welcomed participants to the workshop.

“What would it mean for Iowa if every child finishing third grade could read at or above the third-grade level?” Buck asked. “We’re at a pivotal time. We agree we must dramatically improve. I say that Iowa’s education is good as it ever has been – it’s just that other states have passed us on some academic measures.”

Through the weeklong workshop, educators learned three key elements to RtI as to how it provides a snapshot of the student’s current pre-literacy skills.

1. Assessments to ensure that students are ready to learn when they start kindergarten
2. Assessments in kindergarten through sixth grade that will continue to monitor each student’s progress
3. Making decisions based on data

AEAs will continue to provide training and coaching as the process is implemented. We look forward to sharing more stories with you as we move forward.

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