To ensure students are receiving the best possible education, the Iowa Legislature has taken action. In recent years, Iowa’s once high national ranking has slipped. Beginning May 2017, Iowa Code 279.68 will require every student reach state reading benchmarks. If, by third grade, students are not meeting those benchmarks, with few exceptions, they must repeat third grade.
“The whole idea is that we have kids reading at grade level by third grade,” says Mindy Mossman, principal at Pleasantview Elementary School. “The only way they’re going to do that is if we stay on course through kindergarten, first and second grade. You can’t just catch up in third grade. Research shows if students are not reading at grade level by third grade, they never will.”
Focus on foundational skill
The Webster City Community School District will comply with new code requirements by giving each student universal screening assessments three times during the school year. Within 30 days, parents will receive a report indicating any reading deficiencies.
Students will be provided intense reading instruction and be involved in daily small reading groups. Teachers will monitor their weekly reading progress.
When an assessment indicates a student has not met state benchmarks, additional instruction will be provided after school and/or during the summer.
Students will be expected to learn by listening, participating in reading activities and completing all of the assigned tasks.
Families will be urged to make sure their children attend school every day, be on time so they don’t miss any lessons, encourage their child’s efforts by reading with him or her daily and making sure any assignments sent home are done. Attending parent teacher conferences and reading assessment results will be essential.
Parents should make sure their child attends after school or summer school sessions when their child assessment shows a reading deficiency, and meet with the summer school teacher or tutors weekly to check their child’s progress and get homework assignments.
Reading is a core skill that allows students to learn everything else, according to Mossman.
“If students improve their reading skills, they will be able to read whatever they need to be successful in life,” she says.