Strong reading skills are the foundation from which all other learning occurs. Because of this we must focus our resources on ensuring our young students are proficient readers. The One World Literacy Foundation has found that 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. 4th grade is the watershed year. We can predict that if a child is not reading proficiently in the 4th grade, he or she has approximately a 78% chance of not catching up.
Early literacy legislation was passed by the Iowa legislature in 2012. In 2013 our lawmakers put $8 million dollars in place to help school districts improve their elementary-level early literacy programs. This is important because it impacts every kindergarten through third grade literacy program in the state.
A big component to the early literacy legislation is that all students should be receiving core reading which includes 90 minutes of scientifically based reading instruction in their general classroom. In addition to the core reading instruction, the law requires students who demonstrate a reading deficiency to receive interventions during the school day.
To determine our students’ reading proficiency, we will begin using a universal reading screener, the Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST). The screener is a three to five minute assessment given to every student in grades K-3. This provides the teacher and building leaders with immediate feedback regarding the student’s performance as well as school wide performance data. Teacher leaders from the FDCSD elementary schools are being trained on FAST at the end of July and will be able to assist other teachers in learning the new system.
At the FDCSD, our plan is to continue to provide all of our K-3 students with a minimum of 90 minutes of core reading instruction per day. Students who show a reading deficiency based on the FAST screener, will be provided with additional, more intensive interventions to assist in developing their literacy skills. The FAST assessment will allow teachers to continually monitor the progress of students.
Parents of students who have a substantial deficiency will be notified by the school. We will provide strategies that parent can use at home to help the child succeed and will give regular progress reports to the parents as well.
If a student is not proficient by the end of the third grade, and does not qualify for a good cause exemption, the student will be required to repeat third grade. Our goal is not to retain students, but rather to look at our core instruction and increase the access to research-based strategies to all of our students making them all strong readers and successful learners.
For information on how you can help your child build his or her literacy skills every day visit: http://www.getreadytoread.org/early-learning-childhood-basics/early-literacy/building-literacy-every-day
Source: One World Literacy Foundation.. “Illiteracy Statistics.” One World Literacy. Accessed July 15, 2014.