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 adopt a reading education program plan for each of the schools operated by the local education provider, specifying the minimum contents of each plan, directing the local education provider to report to the department of education (department), and directing the department to monitor implementation of the plan;
- Specifying that students with significant reading deficiencies (SRD) and students who read below grade level must receive a specified minimum amount of educator-assisted reading time each day;
- Requiring each local education provider to annually post online for public access information concerning the percentage of students who are identified as having SRD, the percentage of students who are not identified as having SRD but are reading below grade level, and the amount and use of money that the local education provider receives as per-pupil intervention money and through the early literacy grant program.
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 one or more entities to independently evaluate whether a local education provider's use of per-pupil intervention money or early literacy grant program money results in students making measurable progress toward reading competency.
The bill changes the distribution of money appropriated from the early literacy fund 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 and the reading certification program.
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 provide 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 of education 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 directs the department to create a reading certification program that is focused on the foundational reading skills and must include 3 tiers: Paraprofessional certification; educator certification; and reading coach certification. Each local education provider must obtain reading certifications for their educators at the educator or reading coach level and may obtain reading certifications at the paraprofessional level for other employees and for parents, upper-grade students, and other community members who request training through the local education provider. The reading certifications are free to local education providers and the persons obtaining the certification.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)