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Evidence-based Early Literacy in the United States (Covers All 50 States)

As the new school year begins, teachers, schools, school districts, organizations and governments are looking to improve early literacy scores post-pandemic. Some states across the US have strengthened previous legislative acts, other states have action plans in place to deal with literacy inequity, while others have enacted new laws to increase early reading achievement.

Several resources exist covering much of the good work underway across the US.

We’ve reviewed all these resources and selected the most pertinent information that relates to early literacy achievement and summarized it for you here. Our interactive map offers an additional way to navigate the information. It is the only one of its kind that focuses solely on the Pre-K to 3 education journey. Simply click on any state and see what efforts are in place to improve literacy scores.

 

How to Read Each Evidence-based Early Literacy Profile

Evidence-Based Early Literacy Profile

Each state identified share three common components in reading achievement for early learners. These three elements look at the planning behind each student when they enter kindergarten, their Pre-K to 3 education experience, and their level of reading achievement at Grade 3. 

Each profile includes succinct answers to all of the following questions:

  1. Quality of Instruction 
  • Is instruction evidence-based? How so?
  1. Assessments & Monitoring of Data
  • Besides mandated assessments, what other structures are in place to monitor student progress?
  • Given the importance of identifying dyslexic early learners, is there a provision to screen for these learners? 
  • Is there a plan for connecting Pre-K data to school data, and a mechanism for dealing with students who don’t meet reading requirements by Grade 3?
  1. Interventions
  • Is there any guidance on how the assessment data is to be used?
  • Is guidance provided on the type of interventions that should be implemented?

The education industry in the US is regulated at the federal and state level. It is helpful to see the policies of each state in the US, to get a feel for how things are progressing. 

Sprig hopes that this information is useful in understanding the current landscape of evidence-based early literacy policies in the US. 

Sprig Reading is an interactive tool for JK-2 teachers that was designed to implement evidence-based instruction for diverse classrooms. It strongly encourages screening for dyslexia and formative assessments, and fits well within the framework of existing screening and assessment policies. Additionally, it agrees with and conforms to all assessment use cases that are in law currently, such as informing intervention policies, reporting to parents, or informing instruction.

 

The Interactive Evidence-based Early Literacy Map of the US


Alabama

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Alabama Literacy Act, passed in 2019, has sharpened the focus on early grades reading and directed coaching support and additional resources to support reading instruction based on the science of reading. The law now requires all schools to assess all students in reading from kindergarten through third grade.” (Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third-grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of interventions:

– Summer school.

– After school.

– Saturday school tutorial programs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Alaska

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In June 2022, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed the Alaska Reads Act into law, creating four new programs to support early literacy: district reading intervention program, department reading program, voluntary Pre-K and Parents as teachers, and  a virtual education consortium.” (The Alaska Reads Act)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required. Retention policy is a local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third-grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Arizona

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Arizona’s Move on When Reading law was first enacted in 2010 and implemented in 2013.  The purpose of the legislation is to identify struggling readers and to provide them with specific, targeted interventions so that they are reading at or above grade level by the end of the 3rd grade.

A student may not be promoted from the third grade if the student fails to demonstrate sufficient reading skills on the statewide assessment as determined by the Board.” (Arizona State Board of Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening and formative assessments in reading are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Inform instruction.

– Monitor student progress.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Intensive intervention based on high-quality research findings.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Arkansas

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Right to Read Act, amended by the Arkansas Legislature in 2019, requires curriculum programs that are supported by the science of reading and based on instruction that is explicit, systematic, cumulative, and diagnostic, including without limitation: (1) dyslexia programs that are evidence based and aligned to structured literacy or grounded in the Orton-Gillingham methodology, (2) evidence-based reading intervention programs, and (3) evidence-based reading programs that are grounded in the science of reading.” (Division of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Yes. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Literacy and mathematics assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting to students, parents and the community.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– In school intensive reading instruction.

– Summer school programs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

California

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Senate Bill 488 Teacher credentialing: reading instruction was signed in 2021, “which will require the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to revise and strengthen teaching standards for licensure for new teachers that incorporate both the science of reading and the California Dyslexia Guidelines. Decoding DyslexiaThe new law will require that accredited teacher preparation programs meet higher standards with respect to preparing teachers in evidence-based reading instruction, particularly foundational reading skills. The CTC will also be required to certify that existing accredited teacher preparation programs are aligned with the new teaching standards. The new law will sunset the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (or “RICA) and it will be replaced with a new Literacy Teaching Performance Assessment that will include assessing instruction on foundational reading skills.” (New California Reading Law Tightens Teaching Standards)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

No additional assessments are required. However, districts can receive support from the state department of education to provide K-2 English language arts and mathematics formative assessments.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Summer school.

– Interim session remediation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No. 

 

Colorado

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (READ Act), passed by the Colorado legislature in 2012, focuses on early literacy development for all students and especially for students at risk to not read at grade level by the end of the third grade. The READ Act focuses on literacy development for kindergarteners through third-graders. Students are tested for reading skills, and those who are not reading at grade level are given individual READ plans. In 2019, the legislature strengthened the READ Act, adding new emphasis on the importance of instruction that is scientifically proven to be effective in teaching all students to read at grade level. It required all K-3 teachers to receive training in evidence-based reading instruction.” (Colorado READ Act).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading are required to be given by teachers in grades K-3. Summative reading assessments may be administered in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing individual intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Student specific strategies based on their needs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Connecticut

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?“New mandates within the recently enacted state budget bill require every school district in the state to have a reading curriculum that focuses on the so-called “science of reading” by 2023.The legislation, initially dubbed the “Right to Read” act, also calls for $12.8 million in spending to ensure that school districts where students are falling behind can hire reading coaches.” (Right to Read CT)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading are required to be administered to students in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing instruction.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Supplemental reading instruction.

– Tutoring

– After school, school vacation, weekend, ro summer reading program.

– Individual reading plans.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Delaware

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Senate Bill 4 was introduced in March 2022. “This Act requires the Department of Education to maintain and publish a list of evidence-based, reading instruction curricula for grades kindergarten through 3. Each curriculum on this list must align with the essential components of literacy, known as the “science of reading” and use high-quality instructional materials. This Act also requires that by the beginning of the 2027-2028 school year, school districts and charter schools serving students in grades kindergarten through 3 do all of the following: 1. Adopt a reading instruction curriculum from the Department list. 2. Demonstrate that all educators who teach reading complete professional development aligned with the essential components of evidence-based reading instruction. 3. Identify a school-based supervisory position responsible for assisting with the implementation of the adopted curriculum.” (Delaware General Assembly)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments on student progress on state standards must be given to students in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting results to parents.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual improvement plan.

– Summer school.

– Before and/or after school instruction.

– Saturday school.

– Tutoring.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Florida

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Just Read, Florida! was launched in 2001 with the unequivocal goal of every child being able to read at or above grade level. The 2022 Florida Statutes ensures that the office shall provide “training to reading coaches and school administrators on the evidence-based strategies for purposes of implementation, modeling, and classroom observations to support professional growth and inform performance evaluations of instructional personnel. It shall create multiple designations of effective reading instruction, with accompanying credentials, to enable all teachers to integrate reading instruction into their content areas. It shall also work with the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida to develop training for K-12 teachers, reading coaches, and school administrators on effective content-area-specific reading strategies to improve student reading performance.” (The 2022 Florida Statutes)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening, diagnostic, progress monitoring assessments can be administered to identify reading deficiencies.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying reading deficiencies.

– Informing intensive, explicit, systematic, and multisensory reading interventions.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of interventions:

– Personalized intensive, explicit, systematic and multisensory.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Georgia

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

HR 650 passed in 2022, which has the following committee goals 

“1. Define evidence-based literacy instruction.

  1. Understand impact of low-literacy on Georgia’s workforce competitiveness.
  2. Identify all the programs that exist along the pipeline and understand how they can work together.
  3. Examine how changes can be made to education standards to support evidence-based instruction and enable adaption as new science emerges.
  4. Determine how Georgia can best support and expand local ecosystems to maximize potential and while enabling local flexibility.
  5. Recommend actions and legislation as needed.” (HR 650: EVIDENCE BASED LITERACY STUDY COMMITTEE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with the opportunity for a parental or teacher appeal.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading and mathematics are required in grades 1 and 2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Class augmentation.

– Self-contained instructional models.

– Reduced class size.

– Pull-out models.

– Reading Recovery.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Hawaii

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

 Hawaii “requires all schools to have early screening and assessments for early identification of dyslexia. These requirements include:

  • A multi-tiered system of research-validated interventions and supports.
  • Multi-sensory structured language education.
  • Program content includes phonology and phonological awareness, sounds and symbol association, syllables, morphology, syntax, and semantics.” (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No. 

 

Idaho

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan, introduced in 2020, “ lays a good framework for the state’s literacy instruction. The 45-page document identifies the five essential reading components as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.It also puts focus on research-based interventions and systematic, explicit instruction. It lays out how teachers shall use a wide variety of information about their students to develop individualized instruction that addresses students’ unique needs.” (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in literacy are required twice per year in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing interventions.

– Determining whether struggling schools will require a school intervention program.

– Reporting annually to the state board, legislature and governor and public.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Extended time literacy intervention.

– Minimum of 60 hours of supplemental instruction for students who score below basic on the reading screening assessment.

– Minimum of 30 minutes of supplemental instruction for students who score basic on the reading screening assessment.

– Online or digital instruction materials or programs may be used.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Illinois

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Right to Read Act passed the house committee in 2022. It requires “that the State Board of Education shall offer support: to each public school district to select evidence-based core reading instruction programs and implement them using structured literacy instruction; and to each early childhood, elementary, and special education teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, and administrator to complete evidence-based training in teaching reading. Requires the State Board of Education to annually compile and post on its website information on the steps it has undertaken to support school districts to deliver high-quality, evidence-based literacy instruction, including a list of any Early Literacy Grant recipients, documentation of how the recipient allocated the funding to support improved literacy, and what evidence-based literacy curricula the recipient is utilizing.” (Bill Track 50)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed. Retention policy is a local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Summer bridge program of no less than 90 hours.

– Tutorial sessions.

– Increased or concentrated instructional time.

– Modifications to instructional materials.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Indiana

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

It was announced in August 2022 that “Indiana will spend $111 million to revamp its method of teaching reading to young students by prioritizing phonics, state leaders announced Thursday. The lion’s share of the funds will go to training teachers in the “science of reading” — a vast body of research on optimal early literacy techniques.  The bulk of the total money $85 million will go toward training current and future teachers on phonics-focused literacy instruction. Up to $60 million is for the state education department to increase the number of instructional coaches who specialize in phonics-based literacy in elementary schools.” (Chalkbeat Indiana). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Formative and summative assessments in reading for grades K-2 must be included in a district’s reading plan.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Scientifically-based reading strategies that meet the student’s needs.

– Instruction by an effective teacher as measured by student performance results.

– At least 90 minutes of reading instruction each school day.

– At least one of the following instructional options:

– Tutoring before or after school.

– Parent workshops and a parent-guided home reading program.

– A mentor or tutor with specialized reading training and may include volunteers or school staff.

– Extended-day programs, supplemental instruction services.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Iowa

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Iowa has two codes in place that promote effective, evidence-based programming, instruction, and assessment practices. It requires that each school district must assess all students K-3 for their level of reading or reading readiness. For students who are persistently at risk in reading, schools must provide intensive instruction, including 90 minutes daily of scientific, research-based reading instruction.” (Journal, IMSE).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Yes. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Locally determined or statewide assessments in reading or reading readiness are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing instruction and intervention for students.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:- Reduced teacher-student ratios.

– More frequent progress monitoring.

– Small group instruction.

– Tutoring or mentoring.

– Extended school day, week, or year.

– Summer reading programs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Kansas

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

HB 2567 was passed in 2022, which creates “the Every Child Can Read Act, which requires every school district in Kansas to implement a literacy program based on the science of reading, designed to ensure every student learns to read by third grade.” (Kansas Lawmakers Pass Transformational, Student-Centered Legislation)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

State or diagnostic assessments that meet state standards in math and reading are required in grades K-3

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required use of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing target specialized instructional interventions, programs and strategies.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individualized instruction.

– Alternative teaching methods.

– A restructured school day.

– Extended time strategies.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Kentucky

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Kentucky passed a few laws relating to dyslexia in 2018. House Bill 187 required the Department of Education to create a dyslexia toolkit that contains guidance, training, and technical assistance aimed at implementing evidence-based practices.House Bill 367 created a dyslexia trust fund administered by the Kentucky Department of Education. The purpose of the fund is to finance grants to local school districts for support of students identified by the characteristics of dyslexia.” (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Diagnostic assessments in reading must be provided by school districts for grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing intervention services for students who are not at a proficient reading level.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Response to Intervention.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Louisiana

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2021, Louisiana passed Act 108, “which requires early literacy training for all K-3 teachers of reading, math, science, and/or social studies as well as principals and assistant principals of schools that include the K-3 grade levels. This training, which consists of the science of reading, must be completed no later than the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year.” (Richland Parish School Board). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening in literacy must be administered to all students in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of the K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying reading deficiencies.

– Identifying possible physical or mental impairments.

– Informing instruction and intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Maine

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The updated 2020 Maine Reading Standards “provides earning targets in developmental progressions for each grade K-5.”(Maine Department of Education). Reading Foundational skills are a part of the supporting materials to better implement the reading standards. 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading, mathematics, science and social studies are required in grades K-12.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

School districts are required to provide interventions to students in grades K-12 to support them in meeting academic standards and requirements. Interventions must be timely and based on ongoing formative assessments and progress monitoring

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Maryland

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Ready to Read Act “requires local school systems to screen students in kindergarten for reading difficulties and to screen students in first grade who have not been screened or who are at-risk for reading difficulties. It also requires supplemental instruction to be provided to those students found to be at risk for reading difficulties. “ (Maryland State Board of Education)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening in reading must be administered by a district to students entering a school in kindergarten or first grade.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Enrollment in a reading assistance program.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Massachusetts

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Starting in 2018, staff in the Department’s Office of Literacy and Humanities engaged educators and other stakeholders statewide to develop the Department’s Literacy Strategic Plan.This strategic plan, called Mass Literacy,  responds to the concerns of educators along with ELA/Literacy achievement data. As a result, it identifies two areas of focus for the Department’s instructional support for English Language Arts and Literacy: high-quality core instruction and evidence-based early literacy.” (Massachusetts, Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Michigan

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed a law that requires schools to identify learners who are struggling with reading and writing and to provide additional help. The law states that third graders may repeat third grade if they are more than one grade level behind beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.” (State of Michigan)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening, formative, and diagnostic assessments in reading must be administered at least three times per year to K-3 students.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Diagnosing reading difficulties.

– Informing instruction and intervention needs.

– Assessing progress towards a growth target.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of Intervention:

– Additional instructional time during the school day.

– Students in third grade can receive:

– Daily small group instruction or 1-on-1 instruction.

– Parent-lead reading at home programs.

– Ongoing progress monitoring.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Minnesota

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The 2021 Minnesota Statutes cover the literacy goal of seeking “to have every child reading at or above grade level no later than the end of grade 3, including English learners. It requires that teachers provide comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction.” It also says that “Reading assessments in English, and in the predominant languages of district students where practicable, must identify and evaluate students’ areas of academic need related to literacy. The district also must monitor the progress and provide reading instruction appropriate to the specific needs of English learners. The district must use a locally adopted, developmentally appropriate, and culturally responsive assessment and annually report summary assessment results to the commissioner by July 1. (Minnesota Legislature)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Locally determined reading assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting results to parents.

– Reporting results to the state department.

– Informing instruction and intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Attendance in summer school.

– Intensified reading instruction that may require that the student be removed from the regular classroom for part of the school day.

– Extended-day programs.

– Programs that strengthen students’ cultural connections.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Mississippi

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In 2013, Mississippi passed a law to use science-based instruction to ensure students read at or above grade level by the end of third grade.” (The Hechinger Report). The Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA) “ensures a comprehensive approach to teaching all children to read starting as early as kindergarten. The true spirit of the law is to identify K-3 students who need additional help in reading as early as possible and to provide effective instruction and intervention to ensure they read on grade level by the end of third grade. In 2016, the law was amended to include individual reading plans for students identified with a reading deficiency, and a higher cut score was established for third-grade promotion.” (Excel in Ed). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening assessments are required in literacy and numeracy in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying reading deficiencies.

– Reporting to the state department of education.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Small group instruction.

– Reduced teacher-student ratios.

– Tutoring in scientifically research-based reading services in addition to the regular school day.

– The option of transition classes.

– Extended school day, week or year; and Summer reading camps.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Missouri

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Missouri still abides by the Reading Instruction Act, established in 2002. The bill was enacted to ensure that all public schools establish reading programs in kindergarten through third grade that are based in scientific research.These programs must include the essential components of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. All new teachers who teach reading in kindergarten through third grade must receive adequate training in these areas.” (Journal, IMSE.)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments must be administered by a district at the beginning of the school year to all third-grade students.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of the K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing reading improvement plans and instruction.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual intervention plan.

– Summer reading program.

– Individual or group development activities.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Montana

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Montana enacted SB0140 in July of 2019, which is cited as the “Montana Dyslexia Screening and Intervention Act.The act addressed dyslexia in Montana by providing a definition of dyslexia and requiring school districts to screen students and address the needs of students identified with dyslexia. The screening instrument must be designed to assess developmentally appropriate phonological and phonemic awareness skills.”( Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Nebraska

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The NebraskaREADS initiative was created to serve the needs of students, educators, and parents along the journey to successful reading. The NebraskaREADS initiative supports the policies and practices outlined in the Nebraska Reading Improvement Act, which was enacted in 2018 and went into effect during the 2019-2020 school year. The law takes a comprehensive approach to improve the early literacy skills of Nebraska’s K-3 students. It emphasizes the importance of strong early reading instruction and individualized supports for students who are struggling.”(Nebraska Department of Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Nevada

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Nevada’s Grade 3 Reading laws, which were revised in 2019, require districts to create a literacy plan for elementary school students. At the school level, principals must identify a literacy strategist to assist other teachers with reading instruction, and teachers must complete state-mandated professional development around reading. If a student in kindergarten through third grade falls behind in reading, the district must notify parents, and districts must create a plan to monitor the students’ progress. The state had planned to phase in a retention requirement in the coming years, but 2019 revisions to the law eliminated that requirement.” (Third Grade Reading Laws). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, but not required.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing reading interventions.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Small group reading sessions.

– Specific instruction based on reading deficiencies.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New Hampshire

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

New Hampshire law states, “The student’s school district shall provide age-appropriate, evidence-based, intervention strategies for any student who is identified as having characteristics that are associated with potential indicators or risk factors of dyslexia and related disorders beginning no later than January 1, 2018.”In the event  that a diagnosis of dyslexia or other reading disability is confirmed by the comprehensive assessment, the board of education shall provide  appropriate evidence-based intervention strategies to the student, including  intense instruction on phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.” (National Center on Improving Literacy)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New Jersey

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The most recent literacy policy of note that was passed in New Jersey was AB3606. This act stated that during each five-year, 100-hour professional development period, teachers are required to complete at least 20 hours of professional development instruction on the screening, intervention, accommodation, and use of technology for students with reading disabilities such as dyslexia.” (Journal, IMSE).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, local decision and policy.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New Mexico

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Senate Bill 398 was signed into law in 2019. It states that “ Every school district shall develop and implement a literacy professional development plan that includes a detailed framework for structured literacy training by a licensed and accredited or credentialed teacher preparation provider for all elementary school teachers and for training in evidence-based reading intervention for reading interventionists and special education teachers working with students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia or diagnosed with dyslexia.” (54th Legislature, State of New Mexico)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening and progress monitoring in reading, language arts and mathematics are required for grades kindergarten and one. Diagnostic tests in reading and language arts are required in grades two and three.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 Assessment date include:

– Inform, in part, grade placement determinations.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Tutoring.

– Extended day or week programs.

– Summer programs.

– Other research-based interventions and models for student improvement.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New York

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that elementary schools in the biggest district in the country would be required to adopt a phonics-based reading program. (Time). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Diagnostic screening in reading, mathematics, problem solving, motor development, articulation skills, and cognitive development are required of all new entrants to school and those with low test scores.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individualized instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

North Carolina

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021 modifies the implementation of read-to-achieve programs, including changes to reading instruction in North Carolina public elementary school classrooms, with the aim of improving literacy levels by the time students reach the third grade. Notably, the law transitions reading instruction away from a ‘look and say’ method to adopt a ‘Science of Reading’ approach based on phonetic practices of comprehension, and establishes an Early Literacy Program in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to provide teacher training and support.The law means teacher licensing will include three continuing education credits directly related to literacy and based upon the science of reading method.” (The Carolina Journal). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Formative and diagnostic assessments in reading are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying student reading difficulties.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual instruction.

– Tutoring, or mentoring that targets specific reading skills and abilities.

– Reading camp.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

North Dakota

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Science of Reading legislation passed by the North Dakota legislature in 2021. This legislation is intended to support the improvement of core reading instruction for students in kindergarten through third grade throughout North Dakota. The Science of Reading legislation requires schools and districts to use curriculum to provide reading instruction and correctly diagnose reading struggles. Specifically, K-3 educators and administrators must receive training in instructional practices that align with research that reveals the science of how the brain learns and engages in reading.” (North Dakota Department of Public Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Summer school.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Ohio

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Bill 436 was signed into law in 2019 that requires the department, in collaboration with the Ohio Dyslexia Committee, to identify screening and intervention measures that evaluate the literacy skills of students using a multi-sensory structured literacy program.” (Ohio Department of Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Diagnostic assessments in reading, writing and mathematics are required in grades K-2. Diagnostic assessments in reading and writing must be administered in grade three.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Understanding student progress towards meeting learning standards.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Alternative or supplemental instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

Oklahoma

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Teachers in Oklahoma “are now required to receive annual training for dyslexia awareness from a multi-sensory structured language training institute. “ (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening instruments in reading are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying the need for intervention and additional instruction.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Additional instructional time.

– After school tutoring.

– Summer school programs.

– Student who have been retained

– Minimum of ninety minutes of daily uninterrupted time.

– Scientific-research-based reading instruction.

– Individualized instruction.

– Small group instruction.

– Reduced teacher-student ratio.

– Progress monitoring, tutoring or mentoring.

– Transition classes containing third and fourth grade students.

– Extended day/week/year programs, and summer school.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Oregon

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Oregon Legislature passed the Student Success Act in 2019, which was a historic investment in Oregon education.” It pledged $1 billion per year on initiatives that included early Learning. It required that the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission “establish the standards for the professional development of teachers. Schools must be able to demonstrate that candidates receive training in how to provide literacy instruction that enables all students to meet or exceed third-grade reading standards.” (Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Ongoing screening, progress monitoring and assessments can be administered to students in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Guiding instructional decisions.

– Informing instructional strategies for student groups.

– Supporting structured interaction with parents.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Pennsylvania

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

House Bill 2045 passed in 2022,  “which requires the state Department of Education to establish a teacher training course in the “science of reading,” starting next school year.It defines “science of reading” as evidence-based instructional and assessment practices that integrates listening, speaking, reading, spelling and writing in the development of oral and written language skills. The statewide literacy program would be voluntary for public schools to participate. Its purpose is to train educators on how to identify potential risk factors for early reading deficiencies and instruct them in how to differentiate instruction to improve reading outcomes.” (Penn Live)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Each school must design an assessment system for all students to determine the degree to which students are achieving academic standards.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying and providing assistance to students who are not achieving proficiency on academic standards.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Rhode Island

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Rhode Island Right to Read Act was passed in July of 2019.  The law requires educators to exhibit either proficiency in or awareness of the knowledge and practices of the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. In addition, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) must provide professional learning for educators to support these requirements, and Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) must address these requirements within their programs of study.

The Science of Reading, or scientific reading instruction, is defined as empirically-based instruction that is grounded in the study of the relationship between cognitive science and educational outcomes. Structured Literacy is defined as an approach to teaching that integrates speaking, listening, reading, and writing by providing explicit, systematic, diagnostic-prescriptive instruction in phonological and phonemic awareness, sound-symbol correspondence (phonics), syllables, morphology, semantics, and syntax.” (Rhode Island Department of education)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Districts must develop an assessment plan to monitor and assess all students’ progress.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Inform teacher evaluations.

– Improving performance in the school district.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Supplemental instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

South Carolina

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The South Carolina Read to Succeed Act requires the  implementation of “ a comprehensive, systemic approach to reading which will ensure that classroom teachers use evidence-based reading instruction in prekindergarten through grade twelve, to include oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension; administer and interpret valid and reliable assessments; analyze data to inform reading instruction; and provide evidence-based interventions as needed so that all students develop proficiency with literacy skills and comprehension.” (South Carolina Legislature). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Formative assessments in English language arts and mathematics are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing and improving literacy instruction and planning at the school and district level.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual or small group assistance.

– 30 minutes of additional reading and writing instruction.

– Summer reading camps.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

South Dakota

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In 2018, South Dakota updated its State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy. The detailed plan focuses on the shared responsibility for students’ literacy development, focus and coherence in instruction and assessment, and formative and summative assessment among other things.

The standards break down the foundational skills of reading into four major components:

  • Print Concepts
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonics and Word Recognition

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of interventions:

– Scientifically-based literacy instruction.

– Educational and behavioral evaluations.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Tennessee

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2021, “The Tennessee General Assembly approved a $160 million package of bills, legislation aimed at tackling student learning loss during the pandemic, the state’s stagnant literacy rates and how schools will handle standardized testing after a year of academic disruptions. 

The new legislation lawmakers approved requires local school districts to use a phonics-based approach for teaching children to read. It also provides training and support for educators to teach phonics-based reading instruction.” (The Tennessean). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Response to Instruction and Intervention.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Texas

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“House Bill 3, passed during the 86th Texas Legislature, established the requirement that all teacher candidates who teach students in grades Pre-K-6 demonstrate proficiency in the science of teaching reading on a new, standalone certification exam. This requirement took effect on January 1, 2021.” (Texas Education Agency)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Determining if students have reading difficulties or dyslexia.

– Informing parents of students’ reading skills and difficulties.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Before, after and nontraditional school time instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Utah

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Utah Senate Bill 127 was signed into law in 2022. “This bill amends and establishes programs to emphasize literacy in kindergarten through grade 3. This bill requires the state board to establish strategies and administer programs to improve early literacy outcomes in kindergarten through grade 3, including:providing statewide and regional support in literacy coaching and professional learning in early literacy; establishing a panel with expertise in the science of reading and the science of reading instruction.” (Utah Legislature)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Benchmark assessments in reading are required in grades 1-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting to parents.

– Determining if a student needs individualized intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individualized interventions.

– At home resources for parents to use to support reading skill development.

– Tutoring.

– Before and after school programs.

– Summer school.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Vermont

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“ Under Title 16:Education, the Vermont Statutes state that the State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Agency of Human Services, higher education, literacy organizations, and others, shall develop a plan for establishing a comprehensive system of services for early education in the first three grades to ensure that all students learn to read by the end of the third grade.A public school that offers instruction in grades one, two, or three shall provide highly effective, research-based reading instruction to all students. All students need to receive systematic reading instruction in the early grades from a teacher who is skilled in teaching reading through a variety of instructional strategies that take into account the different learning styles and language backgrounds of the students. “ (Vermont General Assembly). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Research-based reading instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

Virginia

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Virginia Literacy Act was signed into law in 2022. It “makes several changes relating to early student literacy, including requiring (i) each education preparation program offered by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education or alternative certification program that provides training for any individual seeking initial licensure with an endorsement in a certain area, including as a reading specialist, to demonstrate mastery of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction, as such terms are defined in the bill; (ii) the literacy assessment required of individuals seeking initial teacher licensure with endorsements in certain areas to include a rigorous test of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction; (iii) each school board to establish a divisionwide literacy plan; and (iv) each local school board to provide a program of literacy instruction.” (Bill Track 50). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Standards of Learning or diagnostic assessments in reading must be administered in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Determining the need for reading intervention.

– Reporting to the state department of education.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention include:

– Special reading teachers.

– Trained aides.

– Volunteer tutors under the supervision of a certified teacher.

– Computer-based reading tutorial programs.

– Aides to instruct in-class groups while the teacher provides direct instruction to the students who need extra assistance.

– Extended instructional time in the school day or school year for these students.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Washington

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2018, Washington passed Senate Bill 6162 which defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability and requires early screening for dyslexia. The bill states that each school district and charter school must screen each student in kindergarten and first grade for indications of dyslexia.Each school district must also use evidence-based multitiered systems of support to students who display indications of dyslexia.It also called for the dissemination of research and information to schools about evidence-based reading programs and practices. (Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grade 2..

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 Assessment data include:

– Informing parents, teachers, and school administrators on the level of oral reading accuracy and fluency skills for each student.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Superintendents are required to develop a list of intervention strategies to support student reading skills and provide that list of interventions to the state department of education.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

West Virginia

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading  works with all 55 counties to close the literacy gap by the end of third grade.

It focuses on four components to help improve literacy rates:

  • School Readiness
  • Attendance
  • Extended Learning
  • High-Quality Instruction

 The instruction involves immersion in a literacy-rich environment to develop awareness and understanding of reading and writing.” (Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed based on a teacher recommendation.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Before, during and after school instruction.

– Summer instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Wisconsin

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Under current law, school boards and independent charter schools must

annually assess pupils enrolled in four-year-old kindergarten to second grade for

reading readiness using an assessment of literacy fundamentals selected by the

school board or independent charter school. The selected reading readiness

assessment must evaluate whether a pupil possesses phonemic awareness and letter

sound knowledge. “ (Wisconsin State Legislature). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 Assessment data include:

– Informing parents of student reading difficulties.

– Informing and determining if students need additional instruction and intervention..

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Scientifically-based, individualized reading interventions in areas of deficiency.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Wyoming

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Wyoming introduced an act in 2019 (HB297) that states each school district must select and implement a reading assessment and intervention program that uses an instrument that screens for signs of dyslexia. 

This program must be administered to all students in kindergarten through grade three. In order to best assist the school district, the department of education will collect kindergarten through grade two longitudinal data from assessments. These assessments will measure the specific skills that evidence-based research has concluded are predictive of reading proficiency, which include:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Decoding words and non-words
  • Oral reading fluency
  • Reading comprehension” (Journal, IMSE).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing intervention programs.

– Identifying signs of dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Type of intervention:

– Individualized reading program.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

Evidence-Based and Cost-Effective Reading Intervention

When making decisions on education investments, both cost and efficiency must be taken into account. Both factor into the academic ROI, where the idea is to maximize student achievement for a certain sum spent. 

There are many studies that explore the impact of educational tools, but the cost-effectiveness of these tools is often overlooked

Costs include the price tag of such tools, but also the cost of the resources that are required for their successful implementation. 

With the launch of Sprig Reading for the upcoming school year, it is a great time to discuss cost-effectiveness in raising reading achievement. Sprig Reading is meant to be an evidence-based, affordable solution for educators to improve the literacy scores of their students. 

 

Reading Intervention Can be Very Expensive

Reading Intervention Can Be Expensive

In a cost-effectiveness analysis of 7 early literacy programs that have been effective at improving reading outcomes for K-3 students, the cost per student was associated with the grade level and students’ reading struggles. 

For students at higher grade levels (e.g., Grade 3) and those that are really struggling (e.g., bottom 25th percentile), program costs were as much as $10,108 per student (or over $200,000 for a typical classroom of 20 students)!

For students in Grade 1 who were scoring in the bottom 20th percentile, the cost per student was $4,144. For kindergarten students, who were scoring well below average in the bottom 20th-30th percentile, the costs were $791 per student.

For students in Grade 1 scoring slightly below average, the cost per student was $282. Despite being at a higher grade than kindergarten, the cost implications were lower because of the focus on students who were struggling, but closer to the 50th percentile. 

Besides grade level and reading struggles, program duration also heavily influenced the pricing per student. The shortest intervention studied, at 5 weeks, was $479 per student, whereas a 28-week program ranged from $6,696 to $10,108. 

Besides the three levers (grade level, student scores, and program duration) that control costs, a major takeaway from the cost-effectiveness analysis study is the hefty price that is to be paid for each struggling reader.

At a time when students are recovering from missed learning opportunities due to the pandemic, it is not uncommon to see more than half of the class miss the mark for reading proficiency. 

For example, in a class of 20 students, this means 10 students will require some level of reading intervention.

In kindergarten, considering the lower cost per student from the two sample cases in the study ($479), the costs amount to approximately $5,000 per classroom. 

In grade 3, considering the lower cost per student from the two sample cases in the study ($6,696), the costs amount to approximately $65,000 per classroom.

Whichever way we look at it, reading intervention is a costly measure. 

Reading Intervention Cost Comparison

Early Reading Intervention Program VS Sprig Reading

Footnotes

  1. Based on the following research studies: 

https://amplify.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/mCLASS_MOY-Results_February-2022-Report.pdf

https://literacy.virginia.edu/sites/g/files/jsddwu1006/files/2022-04/PALS_StateReport_Fall_2021.pdf

https://www.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/Reading_on_Grade_Level_111710.pdf

  1. # of students needing intervention = # of students x % not reaching reading proficiency  

3. Note that these costs are averages and costs differ based on the reading intervention needs of each student.  Based on the following research studies:

https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=cbcse

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1089965.pdf

  1. Note that total costs assume there is a budget to support every student that requires reading intervention. In actuality, most school budgets will not cover every single student’s needs at each grade level. Total Costs = # of students requiring intervention x Average cost per student

5. Total Costs Per Grade = # of students requiring intervention x Average cost per student

As the table above shows, proven and successful early reading intervention programs can be very costly.  For a typical school, costs can quickly add up to more than $275,000 for a year to support all students in need of early reading interventions.  Now given this high price tag for a school (and school division), often difficult decisions are required to determine which students will receive the reading intervention support due to the lack of funds.

The table above further outlines the costs of Sprig Reading, an evidence-based early reading tool that supports teachers to assess, monitor, plan and instruct on the foundational reading skills. This program has repeatedly proven to bring over 90% of students to reading at grade-level.

In a typical school, the above table shows that when using an inclusive program like Sprig Reading, as early as pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, school costs can be drastically reduced as fewer students require more expensive reading intervention programs in grade 3 and beyond.  

Sprig Reading is now available for purchase or a free trial on our website. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose the option that best suits you.

 

Reading Intervention Can Be Exclusive

Reading Intervention can be Exclusive

Given the high costs of reading intervention programs, it cannot be guaranteed that every student who requires help will receive it.  

Further, if students are not identified in kindergarten, latent gaps in foundational reading skills generally appear at the higher grade levels. 

Not to mention, it is more costly to intervene at the higher grade levels, as seen in the last section.  

Rather, if schools adopt a structured literacy inspired or evidence-based approach for the whole classroom, the likelihood of students requiring intervention decreases. 

Maria Murray, president of The Reading League, a nonprofit, literacy organization out of New York, says that the gap in reading can be closed with “transformative change in the classroom—not just heaping on more programs”. 

She goes on to say “Too often, it’s just an additive model with little to no attention to core classroom instruction and the knowledge that the teachers possess”.

Thus, in order to improve the methods of teaching reading to raise literacy scores, more attention needs to be paid in strengthening the curriculum and increasing the knowledge of educators.

In other words, early literacy efforts have to be widespread and inclusive. The preparation should be such that every student is ready to be helped with research-backed practices and teacher knowledge that minimizes the need for later intervention. 

 

Addressing the Root of the Issue of Reading Interventions

Addressing the Root of the Issue of Reading Interventions

There have been studies showing the efficiency of reading intervention programs in raising alphabetics and text reading fluency scores, albeit at a very high cost per unit increase in the effect size.

 

Two questions arise. 

  1. Are intervention solutions reaching all students and are the gains being sustained? The reading achievement per grade level is still very low across North America. This suggests that there is room for improvement in both whole classroom coverage and skills retainment.

 

  1. Is this sustainable? Given how expensive reading intervention programs are per student, can they be sustained given the pressures from other academic needs such as after school tutoring, new teaching staff hires, and summer learning.

 

If the desired achievement results are not attained, it makes sense to try new evidence-based approaches that have the potential to reduce costs. For example, Stacy Pim, an elementary reading specialist in Virginia, noticed that the skills of Grade 1 students were not improving, and by Grade 2 most of them were reading below grade level. She took it upon herself to use more of her instruction time to teach students phonics-based components such as letter-sound correspondence.  Only a year and half later, Virginia enacted a law mandating evidence-based literacy training and instruction. 

EducationWeek reported that the most popular reading programs did in fact diverge from evidence-based practices in teaching struggling readers. Phonics is included as a component, but not in the systematic manner that is recommended by the Science of Reading. It is often challenging for teachers to organize classroom lessons in the correct sequence in such programs. 

 

Reading Intervention Is Still Needed. 

Reading Intervention is Still Needed

There will always be some students who require extra intensive support that can only be delivered using a pull-out method and with the help of early literacy specialists. 

But Early and Only When Required.

Research says that 80% of students should be able to read in any environment or with explicit and direct high-quality tier 1 instruction, meant for the whole classroom. 

An additional 15% of students can be moved to tier 1 with additional attention and support. This may mean actual reading intervention programs, or in-class differentiated small group instruction.

But it’s safe to say that no more than 20% of students should require reading intervention when early evidence-based approaches to early reading are implemented in kindergarten.

By focusing on early literacy tools that supplement or strengthen the foundational reading skills, it’s possible to greatly reduce the number of students requiring additional intervention programs later on. 

This reduces expenditures for the school and school districts while simultaneously ensuring every student is on a track to achieve reading success grounded in strong foundational reading skills. 

In the truest sense of the definition, it improves academic ROI!

 

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<a href=”https://www.flaticon.com/free-icons/read” title=”read icons”>Read icons created by Freepik – Flaticon</a>

Improving Reading With Dyslexia in Early Literacy

Science of Reading-based literacy programs often focus on phonics and phonological awareness. They are two major factors that, when mastered, lead to reading success.

Students with dyslexia specifically struggle with these two things. They have difficulty learning how sounds relate to alphabets, and how words are composed of different sounds.

Dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to process language. 

With the push towards evidence-based early literacy approaches and reforms in reading instruction, helping dyslexic early learners has become a major topic in conversations surrounding literacy equity. 

Dyslexia, and other related co-occurring learning disorders like ADHD, can put affected students at a disadvantage. In a diverse classroom, the needs of such students can be overlooked, unless we pledge to take the necessary steps to provide the support they need.

In this article, Sprig covers the basics of dyslexia, and offers tips to improve reading with dyslexia in the early years of education. 

Although dyslexia is non-curable, when properly managed, it’s possible for many dyslexic students to be proficient in reading!

 

 How Common is Dyslexia? 

The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity estimates that dyslexia affects 20% of the population and represents 80-90% of all those who have some sort of learning disability.  

Thus, it is very common, and is the leading cause of reading difficulty for those who are struggling to read.

The International Dyslexia Association also confirms dyslexia’s wide prevalence, stating that 15-20% of the population are affected by it. 

Hence, dyslexia is a challenging reality of early literacy that needs to be addressed. 

To begin tackling the reality of dyslexia, it’s good to be aware of the diagnosis process. 

 

Who Does Dyslexia Affect Most?

Who Does Dyslexia Affect Most

There is not enough evidence to state that any one specific age group or gender is more affected by dyslexia. There is evidence to suggest however, that children with dyslexic parents have a greater risk of developing dyslexia.

Dyslexia starts affecting the child as soon as symptoms emerge, and if these signs are not dealt with, their likelihood of reading success dwindles with every school year.

For example, here are some guideposts for symptoms of dyslexia.

15 months: First word not uttered yet.

24 months: First phrase not uttered yet.

Before age 5: Not recognizing alphabets and common rhyming patterns, mispronouncing familiar words and difficulty learning words.

Age 5 to 6: Having problems speaking and pronouncing words, not associating letters with sounds, making reading errors not related to any sounds of letters in the sentence, expressing how difficult reading is and not wanting to go to school. 

 

Thus, it makes sense that, rather than just spending effort in the correct diagnosis of dyslexia, it’s better to create a system that monitors all signs of symptoms at every early grade, starting from pre-K if possible. 

Such an inclusive approach treats every early learner with a safety net. Regardless if the student is actually dyslexic or not, corrective measures can be taken by teachers at the earliest onset of symptoms. 

It begins with how familiar the teachers are about dyslexia’s impact in early literacy. 

 

Are Teachers Trained to Recognize Dyslexia?

Are Teachers Trained to Recognize Dyslexia

Many states are enacting legislation that requires dyslexia training for teachers. 

In a study of over 500 teachers from one such Midwestern state, it was found that teachers held both scientific conceptions as well as misconceptions about the concept of dyslexia. 

For example, 94% of teachers correctly agreed that students with dyslexia have difficulty reading and spelling words. But 81% also incorrectly agreed that seeing letters and words backwards was a characteristic of dyslexia. 

It was found that the reported amount of previous training on dyslexia significantly predicted the teacher’s dyslexia knowledge scores. 

That’s why it is so important to include units in teacher professional development that cover dyslexia. 

With the right knowledge, teachers will have a strong understanding of dyslexic symptoms, be able to better assess it, and apply the correct interventions. 

 

Best Intervention for Dyslexia

Best Intervention for Dyslexia

Research confirms that the assessment and intervention approach works well for identifying and helping children who are failing to learn to read at an expected rate. 

Programs which consist of training in letter-sound knowledge, segmenting and blending, and reading from texts, tend to be better than programs which only focus on oral language skills. 

Researchers have studied the components of evidence-based interventions for literacy difficulties to recommend that interventions be:

Systematic

Well-structured

Multi-sensory

Incorporate Direct Teaching 

Involve frequent revision

 

All of these program traits are a part of Science of Reading-based early literacy programs. 

 

Advice From Dyslexia Reading Programs

  • Keep it Straightforward

Single step directions that are easy to follow are best for instructing students who are challenged with dyslexia. It’s why explicit instruction is such a main feature of Science of Reading-based reading approaches. 

  • Keep it Interactive

Providing multiple opportunities for participation is important for engaging students and ensuring they are regularly interacting with teachers and classmates. 

Because early reading struggles can be so discouraging, avoiding interactions all together is a common go-to move for early learners, which has to be avoided if the goal of reading proficiency by Grade 3 is to be achieved.

  • Keep it Transparent

In order to bring forth true literacy equity, the learning journey of every child needs to be accounted for.  Programs should facilitate the tracking of phonemic awareness milestones and see if early learners are truly able to read without the help of any visual aid. 

 

Build Reading Proficiency in Every Dyslexic Learner

Build Reading Proficiency in Every Dyslexic Learner

To date, there is no permanent cure for dyslexia. But by intervening early and sustaining high-quality early literacy instruction, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms. 

When help is available for dyslexic students, they are more likely to succeed as readers. It’s why making the right support available in the early grades is so important for reading success.

Rather than waiting for a diagnosis, which can be difficult because there isn’t an official test for dyslexia, it’s better to take timely action by observing symptoms.

When teachers have the right background knowledge in dyslexia, and have the tools to provide evidence-based literacy instruction, dyslexic students can benefit from the rigorous and repeated instruction they require, to overcome their initial learning challenges.

Achieving over 90% grade-level reading achievement will mean that a large number of dyslexic students will learn how to read. 

Sprig Reading promises to help teachers teach, assess and differentiate learning for students with dyslexia. Find out more information by joining the waitlist. Be the first in line to get details on the launch event. 

How Principals Can Improve Foundational Reading Skills at Their Schools

School principals have a leadership role in influencing educators in their respective schools. They also have influence over the district leadership if they can successfully implement new ideas that raise student achievement. 

Sometimes they act as the enforcers of new ideas that have been already decided upon at the district level. But given that they know their schools best, the successful implementation of such ideas completely depends on their knowledge, expertise and experience. 

Improving foundational reading skills requires the collaborative effort of many. Sprig has written about these players in previous blogs. See for example, the primary teacher, the literacy specialist and the literacy coach. This article deals with the all important role of the school principal. 

When enough principals adopt a validated, peer-reviewed approach to literacy, they can also influence the superintendents in their districts to try out evidence-based methods, which have been proven to reduce risk of reading failure.

 

What Should Principals Know About Foundational Reading Skills?

What Principals Should Know About Foundational Reading Skills

How many foundational reading skills are there? The traditional answer is five. Phonics, phonological awareness, vocabulary, reading fluency and reading comprehension. But more recent research includes word study along with phonics. Then, there is other research that includes print concepts as one of the main pillars of early reading.

While there are varying degrees of overlap between some of these concepts, it helps to isolate them from one another, and focus on an ideal number of evidence-based foundational reading skills. The Sprig Reading framework for example, has eight such pillars, which includes the 5 main Science of Reading(SoR)-based components, but also concepts of print through shared reading and dolch superpower sight words. 

It’s better to look at all studies from multiple sources and cover every listed foundational reading skill. 

 

There are 10 states in the US that either mandate teachers to use SoR instruction, or require districts to provide SoR-based curriculum or professional development. In addition, there are 12 other states that require teachers to take a SoR-based reading instruction exam, or require teacher prep programs to teach the SoR.

It’s not a case of SoR vs Balanced Literacy. It’s a matter of being more comprehensive versus less comprehensive. Focusing on the visual process of reading, and the practice of reading, are contained within the SoR. 

Popular phonics instruction in Balanced Literacy, such as focusing on the visual appearance of sight words, is already a component of a SoR-based framework. But in addition, SoR heavily focuses on the decoding aspect of reading by looking at letter-sound relationships. 

It’s not a case of abandoning one and choosing another. It’s about including everything with a focus on the 5 core foundational skills.  

 

Literacy Training for Principals

Researchers have studied the balance between managerial and content area knowledge of principals. It’s seen that when school principals develop literacy content knowledge, the students’ literacy scores increase because of more effective literacy instruction. 

Given how important the principal’s role is in a school system, there is a case to be made for principal involvement in literacy training. In a review of 100 hundred principal preparation programs, only seven referenced the term “literacy” in one of their course titles or descriptions. Out of these seven, only three specifically focused on literacy as a content topic. 

It’s safe to say that principals should be included in any literacy-related professional development. 

 

Characteristics of Effective Principals

Characteristics of Effective Principals

There is research to show that principals’ contribution accounts for a quarter of a school’s impact on student achievement. It’s amazing to think of the difference an involved principal has on reading success. Such findings are corroborated by studies which say that an above-average principal can raise student achievement by as much as 20 percentage points.

Such a large swing in student achievement could mean the difference between someone reading below, or higher than, grade level. 

 

There have been countless studies on effective principals which highlight the following behaviours for optimum student success: 

Work directly with teachers to strengthen their teaching practice.

Implement high-quality instructional approaches. 

Offer meaningful professional development opportunities.

Analyze student data with the aim of improving instruction.

Set a culture of collaboration and high expectations.

 

Each of these 5 traits can be applied in an early literacy context to focus on the foundational reading skills. 

 

The Effect of Principals on Those Who Need Most Help

Effect of Principals on Those Who Need Most Help

Foundational reading skills are important for all students, but especially for those who may require extra support. 

In a synthesis of existing studies by the Wallace Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization  that seeks to foster improvements in learning for disadvantaged children, it was discovered that effective principals lead to equitable school and student outcomes via their positive leadership behaviours. 

These primary behaviours include instructionally focused interactions with teachers, building a productive school climate, facilitating professional learning communities and engaging in strategic personnel and resource management processes. 

Principals make a big difference in schools with a high number of at-risk students. They build a sense of community by jointly developing a shared meaning of the school’s vision, mission and goals. They actively participate by discussing with teachers about instructional issues, observing instruction in the classroom, and examining student data alongside teachers.

 

How Much Involvement Is Ideal?

In a research paper titled The Impact of Instructional Leadership on Student Reading Success, the issue of the level of principal literacy involvement was explored in the literature review section.

Too much literacy content knowledge negatively affects the formative walkthrough, which is an intentional learning process where the principal assumes the student’s position as a learner in order to foster collaborative conversations. 

Less than sufficient literacy content knowledge is not good for obvious reasons, as the principal does not know how to advise teachers who are struggling to meet the instructional needs of students. 

Thus, the principals should have enough knowledge of literacy by which they are able to articulate solutions and means of improvement to teachers and staff. 

 

An Active Principal with Adequate Literacy Knowledge = Foundational Reading Success

Active Principal with Literacy Knowledge

Given the leadership position that is held by principals, they have a tremendous responsibility in transforming the vision for literacy success into a reality for schools. 

By following research-based instructional leadership behaviours as stated in this article, they are able to ensure that all students learn the foundational reading skills.

Sprig Learning is developing Sprig Reading, which can be used by principals and teachers alike, to complete ongoing assessments that track and monitor student achievement, and intervene as necessary according to need for more practice or instruction. 

Every student can be helped in their journey to reading mastery. For more insights into building an ideal literacy team, please get in touch with us. With the right tools, principals can build a role-model early literacy instructional system for an entire school district. 

Early Literacy State of Affairs. 6 Major Ways to Make a Difference.

Literacy rates in the US were already dropping before COVID-19, but the pandemic has definitely worsened the situation. 

In Virginia for example, approximately one-third of K-2 students scored below the early literacy benchmark last fall. This is a record high in the 20-year history of conducting The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening assessment in the commonwealth of Virginia.

This year, various states are reporting improvements in grade-level literacy rates as schools, for the most part, have returned back to normal. But in the majority of the states, the number of students at risk of not learning to read remains higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Data from over 1,300 schools in 37 states in the US using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills assessment suggests that a large share of the improvements have been made for Grade 3 to 5 students. 

K-2 students and students from marginalized socioeconomic backgrounds have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic. 

There is data to show that students attending schools in lower-income zip codes or in schools serving a higher portion of Black and Latino students faced the brunt of missed or disrupted learning opportunities. 

The above finding is also true when we zoom in on any particular region. In the Boston region, for example, the percentage of students in low-income schools who are at risk of reading failure doubled during the pandemic. 

This is a major concern because birth to age 8 (Grade 3) is a critical period for learning how to read. It reveals the issue of literacy inequity, which is a big thorn to achieving reading success for all.

Vulnerable groups, either due to age or background, are lagging behind on the road to learning recovery.

 

 6 Major Difference Makers for Early Literacy 

6 Major Difference Makers for Early Literacy

Given the current state of affairs for K-2 students, and for those from marginalized backgrounds, Sprig has identified six factors that make a positive difference in the learning outcomes of children. 

These six factors, when understood properly, can be used to make a difference for students who are: struggling to read, just beginning to learn how to read, or going to start learning in the near future.

Below, we’ve paired each factor with a recommendation for action. 

 

 1. Correlation of Schooling and Reading— Equip Teachers To Spend More Time With Students.

Stanford University conducted a study which showed that Grade 2 and 3 students were 30% behind in reading fluency last year, compared to a typical school year. As soon as school stopped in the spring of 2020, the students’ development of oral reading fluency did too, and remained stagnant during the summer. 

There was a strong recovery in the fall, which is a testament to the hard work of the teachers. But the resurgence in growth was not strong enough to make up for the earlier loss, which carried over to the next year.

The takeaway here is that in-person instruction, or its closest substitute, is still the best way to teach early literacy skills and concepts to young readers. 

Post-pandemic, there is a big rise in remote and blended learning. While it’s good to have such measures in place as contingency plans, one-on-one time between a teacher and a student is still irreplaceable, especially for our youngest learners. 

Such personalized attention can best be received in a classroom environment, where the teacher gets to know the student over time and builds trust. 

 

2. Teacher’s Knowledge of Foundational Literacy Skills— Offer Evidence-based Instruction.

20 empirical studies were reviewed to validate the positive effect of teacher preparation and training programs on elementary teachers’ knowledge of the science of reading (SoR), and also student outcomes in reading. 

When teachers are well versed on the SoR, their students achieve better outcomes in reading. 

In particular, training where teachers had the opportunity to apply their learned knowledge and skills under expert guidance resulted in the biggest growth in teacher knowledge. 

The next factor (Factor 3) in this article talks more about receiving the right guidance, but the first step is to have the right knowledge about reading instruction. 

Any time evidence-based instructional strategies are used, especially those that comply with the SoR, the early learner has a better shot at reading success. It’s why Sprig Reading uses an early literacy framework that is based on the SoR. 

3. Role of Literacy Coaching— Support The Teacher With Specialist Literacy Roles.

Literacy specialists make a big difference in the success of early literacy programs. Primary school teachers have many tasks to do, and it helps to have reading specialists in the team to work with to provide a more well-rounded educational experience to striving readers. 

In particular, the literacy coach role has had a great impact on the reading achievement of early learners. 

There are many examples, such as this one research paper from a large urban school district in southeast Ohio, where literacy coaches improved teacher’s sense of efficacy in literacy instruction in multiple survey items. 

Such as:

  • Using a student’s oral reading mistakes as an opportunity to teach effective reading strategies.

 

  • Using a variety of informal and formal reading assessment strategies.

 

  • Providing specific, targeted feedback to students’ during oral reading.

 

  • Provide students with opportunities to apply their prior knowledge to reading tasks.

 

The greatest gain of working with a literacy coach was: matching differentiated reading materials to the accurate level for students in their classrooms.

The number of different ways in which specialist roles like that of a literacy coach can help primary teachers is quite amazing. What if a literacy coach is not available? In such an instance, a robust platform backed by learning resources can guide teachers.

But in an ideal scenario, both teachers and literacy specialists should collaborate in a team-based setting.  

 

4. Culturally Responsive Teaching— Ensure Diverse Student Needs are Being Met.

There are studies to show that when teachers’ self-efficacy for culturally responsive instruction increases, it increases the likelihood of early literacy success for English Learners. Not everyone starts off on an even playing field. In diverse communities, those from different backgrounds might require specialized teaching expertise or learning materials.

Sprig’s work with Indigenous communities in Canada is an example of combining high-quality early learning programs and adapting them to local traditions, language and customs. This truly helps position every child to succeed in early literacy. 

 

5. Appropriate Screening at the Right Time. — Diagnose Early.

Studies show that early literacy assessments in pre-kindergarten are correlated to literacy performance in kindergarten and beyond. These assessments are good at identifying students who may benefit from early literacy interventions as they enter kindergarten.

Sprig has highlighted the importance of early literacy intervention in a previous blog.

The K-2 group of students is especially vulnerable, because the type of educational experience they get in this formative period could either make or break their case for reading success in future years. 

Therefore, it helps to have some type of formative assessment in place, where a student is immediately assessed as they enter a program. This allows commensurate intervention to be applied if needed, which can unblock reading struggles and pave the road to reading mastery. 

 

6. Parental Involvement in the Early Years—  Communicate With Parents.

Early childhood learning experience, at home, or in any early learning program has a tremendous impact on future reading success. 

For example, one study determined that the number of words children hear by age 2, significantly predicts 16 language and literacy outcomes over the next 9 years. This includes letter identification, phonological awareness, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, which are building blocks of the Science of Reading. 

Learning begins at home, but then continues in school, as a child is introduced to a formal schooling system. As such, it’s so important to build that crucial nexus between parents and educators, so they can fill each other in on the particular needs, interests, strengths and weaknesses of the student when it comes to early reading. 

All of Sprig Learning’s platforms, including Sprig Reading, have this component built-in, whereby educators can share progress reports with parents. In Sprig Language, parents are invited to fill out surveys to build a broader understanding of the learning needs for their child. 

 

Take the Recommended Steps for Early Literacy Success

Steps for Early Literacy Success

The current state of affairs in early literacy is uncertain. Yes, progress is being made. But that progress is geared towards getting back to pre-pandemic levels of reading success, which was not ideal to begin with. Also, it’s not clear if the progress made is at risk of regression in the future. 

The good news is that more and more evidence is emerging which directly states what works in early literacy. The scope of the issue is large enough to deserve district-wide and state-wide attention, and indeed it has. 

By understanding these six factors and taking appropriate measures, it’s possible to provide adequate, sustained, and targeted supports which will usher us into a new era, where high-reading proficiency for diverse classrooms is the norm. 

Sprig Reading, Sprig Learning’s new platform for evidence-based early instruction for K-2 teachers, is going to be released on August 26th. Join the waitlist now to receive exclusive updates. 

40 Science of Reading Insights You Need to Know for Strategic Reading Instruction

The Science of Reading (SoR) is picking up steam in schools in North America. It’s a methodology consisting of evidence-based literacy practices that have proven to work in increasing literacy achievement for early learners. 

The SoR is informed by decades of research into what is most effective at teaching children to read. The knowledge of what makes a successful reader is taken from multiple disciplines and is an expanding body of research.

At present, there is enough evidence to support a shift towards teaching practices that are aligned to SoR. 

Sprig Learning wrote about the application of SoR in various stages of early literacy development. Indeed, SoR should be a part of every early literacy strategy. 

In this article, we look at multiple aspects of SoR to derive lessons that can be applied in the classroom. 

To do this, we rely on an assortment of 40 factual statements on SoR. They are grouped where appropriate, to offer valuable insights to educators, staff and leaders for improving reading instruction at schools. 

Using these 40 insights and other important realizations gained through research and experience, Sprig is committed to bring SoR into the classroom this fall with the launch of Sprig Reading. 

Improvement starts at a strategic level. Let’s see how SoR advises strategic reading instruction.

 

40 Insights to Inform Strategic Reading Instruction

40 Insights to Inform Strategic Reading Instruction

1. The SoR must not ignore language, identity, culture and other contexts that are important to the early reading experience. 

Recommendation

There is another side to SoR that probes deeper into the learning context of the young student. While offering direct, systematic and explicit instruction, it also understands the unique background and learning profile of each student. This can be done through holistic assessments

 

2. Studies show that computer-assisted instruction is valuable in improving the phonological awareness of 6-year-old children. 

Recommendation

Phonemic awareness is one of the major pillars of SoR, which in turn is a part of phonological awareness. It’s important to note that technology has the power to catapult the instruction of these concepts into another level of efficiency!

 

3. The simple view of reading equation (see image below) shows that reading comprehension is the product of decoding/recognition and oral language comprehension. It has been tested in over 100 studies and endorsed by many renowned reading experts.

Simple View of Reading 

Decoding (D) x Language Comprehension (LC) = Reading Comprehension (RC)

 

4. The Scarborough Rope Model of Skilled Reading (see image below) states that  word recognition (which includes phonological awareness, decoding and sight recognition) and language comprehension come together to form the fluent execution of skilled reading. 

The Scarborough Rope Model of Skilled Reading

Scarborough Rope Model of Skilled Reading

Recommendation From 3 & 4

The simple view of reading is one of  the main models used when talking about SoR. Decoding is used in phonemic awareness and phonics, two of the main pillars of SoR. Oral language permeates in every pillar of SoR, but especially vocabulary and phonemic awareness.

Reading comprehension is the result of children recognizing letters and the sounds they make, and understanding the meaning of the words they form. 

The Scarborough Rope Model of Skilled Reading also backs this notion of word recognition (of which decoding is a part of) and language comprehension (of which vocabulary is a part of) coming together to produce skilled readers.

So while the decoding bit is rather obvious to SoR,  oral language is also important to integrate in lessons. 

 

5. Research has identified poor phonological awareness as a major risk factor for dyslexia. Intensive phonological awareness instruction can be used as an intervention for readers with dyslexia.

6. Many readers struggle with reading fluency, which has been linked to poor ability in Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN). RAN is the ability to quickly name letters, symbols, words, or objects in a quick and automatic manner.

7. Relatively small difficulties encountered in the early months of learning how to read, such as problems with phonological processing or letter-to-sound matches, discourage students from practicing reading. For lack of practice, these early learners fail to grow their vocabularies, gain reading fluency, or acquire other background knowledge needed to comprehend texts. 

Recommendation From 5-7

Along with phonological awareness (this includes phonemic awareness), RAN, and Shared Reading and Concepts of Print are extremely important in building fluency in the early stages of one’s reading journey. This is why these concepts are a part of the Joyful Literacy Framework, used by Sprig Reading. 

Although not part of the original 5 pillars of SoR, RAN and Shared Reading and Concepts of Print have been deemed important enough to focus on separately, and should be a part of reading instruction. 

 

8. There are over 40 research centers in the US dedicated to examining reading-related brain activity. Research in these centers have been ongoing for more than three decades. 

9. 15-20 % of students are dyslexic. While dyslexia cannot be cured, intensive reading instruction can help improve the success rates of dyslexic students. 

10. Learning to read requires the involvement of several brain functions. The visual cortex recognizes printed letters and words. It is located in the occipital lobe. 

11. The auditory cortex builds oral word understanding. It is located in the temporal lobe. 

12. The angular gyrus associates letters with sounds. It is located in the parietal lobe. 

13. The inferior frontal gyrus produces speech and processes meaning. It is located in the frontal lobe. 

14. 56% of variance in reading outcomes are due to the increase in volume of brain white matter between kindergarten and Grade 3. The quality of instruction during this time period impacts the building of the neural pathways.

Neural Systems for Reading

Recommendation From 8-14

Ultimately, learning how to read is partly a biological process. It has to do with functions in the brain. 

Given the urgency and gravity of early language development, Sprig Learning always vouches for early literacy intervention, that is taking action, when the student is most conducive to learning concepts and building good habits. 

 

15. There are certain leadership practices that significantly raise the percentage of students’ reading at grade level by Grade 2. Schools that have been successful in raising this number share 5 behaviors. They:

16. Make literacy priority number one.

17. Treat reading instruction time as sacred.

18. Empower teachers to own and lead interventions.

19. Monitor processes and data closely.

20. Share granular data with students. 

Science of Reading Share Data

Recommendation From 15-20

Leveraging SoR for strategic reading instruction is not a task for educators only. They must be adequately backed by school and district leaders. 

When there is a system in place where educators are given the time to focus on literacy instruction, formative assessments and interventions, accountability is increased for all. 

Teachers and administrators are aware of what is working, and the student also knows what areas they need to improve on. This information can also be shared with parents, who can be more actively involved. 

 

21. 90- 95% of students have the cognitive capacity to read.

22. 30% of students are capable of reading regardless of instructional quality.

23. 50% of students are capable of learning how to read from explicit and direct instruction in foundational skills.

24. 15% of students will need additional time and support to meet their reading potential. 

25. 5% of students have severe cognitive disabilities. 

Recommendation From 21-25

While it’s true that there will always be a certain percentage of students who will continue to struggle to read because of cognitive impairments, the vast majority of students should be able to read with varied levels of support.  

The biggest segment from this group of students is those who will need help using SoR in order to boost their literacy scores. By first implementing SoR in the classroom and following it up with tiered intervention support, the overwhelming majority of students (90-95%) can be helped. This is a far cry from the average of 35% of students who are currently reading at grade level at Grade 4 in the US.

 

26. A randomized controlled longitudinal study conducted by Vanderbilt University shows that preschool education improves reading outcomes, but the effects are not sustained beyond kindergarten. 

27. 79% of the variance in high-school reading ability is explained by the intensity of foundational skills instruction in Grade 1. 

28. There is a thing called the Grade 4 slump, where 20% of Proficient Grade 3 readers drop down to Basic  by Grade 5. 55% of advanced readers in Grade 3, are no longer advanced readers in Grade 5. There have been 90 research studies which say that the absence of foundational phonics and phonemic awareness instruction in the early grades impairs students’ reading growth in the later grades. 

29. Research from the University of Chicago has found that for 85-90% of struggling readers, intervention programs implemented before Grade 3 can increase reading skills to an average level. However, if the interventions come after Grade 3, then 75% of those students will continue to struggle with reading. 

Science of Reading Intervention

Recommendation From 26-29

High-quality early literacy instruction is extremely important to literacy growth, but it has to be consistently applied, beginning in preschool, and especially in kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2. If not, then the early efforts are not sustained to achieve maximum reading potential.

Plans to improve  kindergarten and primary school programs are as important as the need for high-quality preschools and early childhood programs.

Instruction early on in kindergarten and Grade 1 has to be intensive, in order to give kids their best shot at success in the later grades. It is absolutely crucial that any literacy interventions are applied before Grade 3. If these interventions are started at preschool, it’s important that they are not stopped after preschool. 

 

30. The concept of spoken language was invented over 200,000 years ago, however the concept of written language was invented only 5,500 years ago. 

31. 87% of words in the English Language are either fully or easily decodable. 

32. Approximately 80% of elementary teachers do not adequately teach phonemic awareness to their students, if at all. 

33. 95% of early elementary classrooms spend inadequate time providing direct instruction on all the English phonemes. 

34. The National Reading Panel (NRP) established the 5 pillars of reading instruction in 2000. To meet the NRP recommendation of more phonics instruction, schools adopted balanced literacy. But in balanced literacy, phonics is taught only briefly. 

35. In a study of 32 elementary schools in Rapides Parish School Board, the percentage of kindergarteners reading at grade level rose from 46% to 99%  because of science-of-reading training, data summits, skills-based grouping and summer learning focused on literacy.

36. In a study of 16 elementary schools in The Bethlehem Area School District, the percentage of kindergarteners reading at or above the DIBELS benchmark composite score increased from 47% to 84% due to science-of-reading training, new curriculum, skills-based grouping and summer learning focused on literacy.

37. UP Academy Holland, which is a part of Boston Public Schools, shifted from balanced literacy to a high-quality English language arts curriculum that was built to support the Science of Reading. Ever since its implementation, they have noticed a decrease in behavioral issues in language blocks, greater confidence from students in responding to questions and reading, and more enthusiasm from both students and teachers!

Science of Reading Literacy Achievement

Recommendation From 30-37

Reading language was a human invention and so it requires a specific methodology for teaching it. As long as that methodology is applied, as demonstrated in numerous case studies, the likelihood of increasing literacy scores rises.

Phonemic awareness and phonics have to be incorporated into lesson plans. It’s not the case currently in many schools where educators are underprepared. A good SoR should have adequate professional development support so educators can be quickly upskilled on how to teach phonemic awareness and phonics. 

 

38. In a survey of Pre-K to 3 teachers, there were three types of challenges faced in literacy instruction. These were time, resources and materials, and diversity of student needs. There was not enough time to work individually with students. This included both struggling and accelerated learners. It was difficult to find reading materials in multiple languages, and appropriate leveled texts for older students who would not be embarrassed to read them. Regarding diversity of student needs, teachers found it difficult to manage striving readers, where they would get pulled out of class, but then miss out on other instruction in class. 

39. The common causes for reading instructional failure include: inadequate or non-existent review and repetition cycle, lack of real reading and writing experiences, inappropriate reading materials to practice skills, loss of time due to transitions, and limited teacher knowledge of research-based phonic routines. 

40. Multi-sensory approach to reading enhances phonics instruction. Manipulatives, gestures, and speaking and auditory cues improve early learners’ acquisition of phonics skills. Multi-sensory activities also provide the necessary scaffolding to beginning and struggling readers. They include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile activities to enhance learning.

Recommendation From 38-40

These last three statements offer insight into what to do, and what not to do, when it comes to using SoR in the classroom for strategic reading instruction. 

We can summarize many of the points to say that differentiated instruction is key to the success of early readers. SoR is amazingly effective, but not if everyone practices the same things at the same pace with the same intensity. 

Also, the need for high-quality instructional materials and resources that drive engagement is highly beneficial. Books need to be appropriate for different skill levels, and the learning environment should be stimulating enough to sustain learning motivation.

All the various components of SoR have to be taught, but in accordance with what each student needs. Differentiation can take up time and extra resources, which are common challenges. But, differentiated instruction has a host of advantages which can offset these challenges and ultimately ensure that every kid has their best foot forward in reading. 

Any tool that makes it easy to differentiate lessons and monitor individual students in a cost-effective manner,  will save teachers percioustime. And if those tools also include guidance on SoR-based teaching practices, plan lessons for their students, and review any progress made, those time savings become truly significant.. That newly freed time can be used to help struggling readers who require further support. 

 

Applying These Lessons 

Science of Reading Applying Lessons

That wraps up this article on the 40 SoR insights. Sprig hopes that the guidance offered here is used to strategize reading instruction in line with SoR. 

Want help bringing SoR into your classroom? Get in touch with us. 

Educators are the heartbeat of the education system. They have a lot on their plate. At this time when there is increasing consensus around SoR, it’s important to be strategic about how reading instruction is delivered across schools and districts. 

Sprig Learning is developing Sprig Reading, which will be released in the fall and change the face of SoR-based early literacy instruction. 

Having the right plan to begin with will save teachers time, and ensure students have enough support.