Assuring students read proficiently by the end of third grade has been a top priority of the Branstad-Reynolds Administration. In 2012, Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed and the Iowa Legislature adopted early literacy legislation to identify struggling readers starting in kindergarten and require schools to provide intensive assistance. That legislation also created the Iowa Reading Research Center, which supports improving students’ reading skills in a variety of ways from conducting research on high-quality literacy instruction to providing other resources for educators as well as for parents to help their children at home: www.iowareadingresearch.org.
Nearly 25 percent of Iowa third-graders did not read proficiently on the state test in 2014-15. State test results for 2015-16 are expected to be released later this month. On the 2015 national test, Iowa ranked 24th in fourth-grade reading, with an average score one point lower than in 1992 when Iowa was a top performer. Some states with a larger share of low-income students, such as Kentucky and Florida, now score higher than Iowa. This shows the importance of continuing the work under way in Iowa to assure students read proficiently by the end of third grade, including closing the achievement gap between some low-income and minority students and their classmates. This is critical so all students graduate from high school genuinely ready for college or career training and so employers across the state are able to hire the skilled workers they need.
The districts Branstad will visit made progress in third-grade reading proficiency on both a brief universal screening assessment (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) given three times a year to measure students’ reading skills as well as on the most recent state assessment. Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise will join Branstad in Urbandale.
The following reading tour stops are open to the public and media:
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016
Urbandale Community School District
Olmsted Elementary School
7110 Prairie Ave.
9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 23, 2016
Denison Community School District
Denison Elementary School
38 N. 20th St.
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016
Benton Community School District
Keystone Elementary School
280 Fourth St.
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.