The bill makes several changes concerning implementation of the "Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act" (READ act) by school districts, charter schools, and boards of cooperative services that operate schools (local education providers) as follows:
- Requiring that instructional programming and services for teaching reading be focused on the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency including oral skills, and reading comprehension (foundational reading skills);
- Directing each local education provider to include in its performance plan specified information concerning the reading assessments, curriculum, instructional programs, and intervention instruction and services used and, for certain local education providers, the plan for providing professional development for teachers;
- Specifying that students with significant reading deficiencies (SRD) and students who read below grade level must receive educational services in a daily literacy block for the length of time indicated by research;
- Requiring each local education provider that receives money through the READ act to provide evidence-based training in teaching reading to kindergarten and first-through-third grade teachers;
- Encouraging local education providers to partner with adjacent public libraries to enhance instruction in literacy.
The bill directs the department to develop and implement a public information campaign to emphasize the importance of learning to read by third grade and to highlight the local education providers that achieve high percentages of third-grade students who are reading at grade level. The bill directs the department to contract with an independent evaluator to evaluate the implementation of the READ act in the state and evaluate whether a local education provider's use of per-pupil intervention money or early literacy grant program money results in students making progress toward reading competency .
The bill changes the distribution of money appropriated from the early literacy fund for the 2019-20 budget year by reducing the amount distributed as per-pupil intervention money, increasing the amount distributed through the early literacy grant fund, and adding distributions to pay for the public information campaign, the independent evaluator, and teacher training. For the 2020-21 budget year and budget years thereafter, the bill specifies the purposes for which the money in the early literacy fund may be appropriated in amounts specified in the annual general appropriations bill.
The bill changes the procedure for distributing the per-pupil intervention money by:
- Requiring a local education provider to provide information and meet certain requirements in order to receive the money;
- Authorizing the department to monitor and, if necessary, audit the use of the money throughout the budget year;
- Expanding the allowable uses of the per-pupil intervention money to include purchasing core reading instructional programs and purchasing technology, including software, to assist in assessing and monitoring student progress; and
- Capping the amount of per-pupil intervention money that a local education provider may retain from year to year.
The bill amends the early literacy grant program to allow a school district to apply for a district-level grant or a school-level grant and to prohibit the state board of education (state board) from restricting an applicant's use of any of the approved reading assessments. The bill also provides that, if the department, at the completion of a grant, determines that the program implemented with the grant money was successful in moving students toward reading competency, the state board must automatically renew the grant and increase the grant amount if necessary to enable the grant recipient to expand the program.
The bill requires a local education provider to report the scores attained by students on the interim reading assessments if the local education provider uses per-pupil intervention money to purchase instructional programming in reading.
The bill expands reporting requirements to include information regarding student academic growth to standard in reading. Each local education provider must submit, in accordance with privacy laws, information requested to complete the independent evaluation of the implementation of the READ act, and the department, the independent evaluator, and the local education provider must collaborate to minimize the impact on instructional time caused by increased reporting.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)