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Gov. Branstad calls for full funding for early literacy

Gov. Terry Branstad
Gov. Terry Branstad

DES MOINES – Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad today called on the Iowa Senate to pass adequate funding for early literacy for Iowa students. Branstad’s budget, which was presented to the Legislature on Jan. 14, 2014, calls for $3.9 million in state funding for the Iowa Reading Research Center in fiscal year 2015. The education appropriation bill passed out of the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate committee cuts needed funding for the center by nearly 50 percent.

“Based on Iowa test scores, nearly 25 percent of Iowa third-graders are not reading proficiently. Without this critical, basic skill, we’re setting our children up for failure,” Branstad said. “The center expects to lose a significant amount in federal funds in fiscal year 2015, making the $3.9 million I propose even more critical.”

Branstad continued, “Last year, Republicans and Democrats were able to come together to pass historic transformational education reform. This year, we once again have the opportunity to ensure our children are receiving the education they deserve.”

According to the center’s website, the “Iowa Reading Research Center is an online collection of literacy resources available to the public for classroom learning and teaching, at-home support, and education research from birth to 12th grade.” The center currently serves nearly 15 percent of Iowa’s 346 school districts. Nearly 300 additional districts and several dozen nonpublic schools have indicated they want to sign up for training this summer to learn how to use Iowa’s early warning system.

“The most important thing we can do for students in Iowa is to help them become proficient readers,” said Michelle Hosp, director of the Iowa Reading Research Center. “Most children make the jump from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’ by the end of third grade, so early intervention is critical. The Iowa Reading Research Center is well-positioned to help schools implement evidence-based reading initiatives to serve the needs of all students.”

Last November, a survey commissioned by the Iowa Reading Research Center and conducted by the regent universities found a lack consistent quality in literacy education across the state. That included teaching approaches that vary widely and uneven knowledge about reading interventions for struggling students both among districts and within districts.

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