Success from the session: Early-grades literacy bill signed | The Bell Policy Center

Success from the session: Early-grades literacy bill signed


Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the Colorado READ Act,
under the watchful eyes of second-graders from
Kenton Elementary School in Aurora.

Surrounded by second-graders and childhood literacy supporters, Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed House Bill 12-1238, the "Colorado READ Act," into law.

We believe that the bill in its final form contains many provisions and intervention strategies that will benefit young students and help more of them attain reading proficiency by third grade. In fact, we think that the Colorado READ Act is an excellent example of a bill that was strengthened by bipartisan efforts to hear and address the perspectives of a diverse set of stakeholders as it made its way through the legislative process.

Getting more students on track toward reading proficiency in the early grades is Second-graderscrucial. In fact, we think that it is so important that we made it our third Gateway to Opportunity. Earlier this year, we published a brief that highlights the gaps in third-grade reading proficiency both at the state and national levels.

During the session, we worked with the sponsors and other stakeholders to ensure that HB 12-1238 more closely reflected the research evidence showing how holding students back affects student success, as explained in our testimony to legislators. We ultimately changed our position on the bill from amend to support after amendments were adopted that softened its language and recommendations regarding student retention. However, we remain cautious about the role that retention will play in achieving the bill's intended outcomes.

There is much to like in the Colorado READ Act. It is comprehensive, collaborative and intervention-driven. It brings together parents, educators and specialists to address the individualized needs of students who are falling behind in kindergarten through third grade. The READ plans outlined in the bill and the focus on multiple assessments and interventions reflect a comprehensive approach to getting more students on track.

Overall, we think this is a significant step forward to ensuring more Colorado students are able to read by third grade.

We thank the sponsors – Reps. Tom Massey and Millie Hamner, Sens. Mike Johnston and Nancy Spence – for working so diligently with all those involved to make this legislation a win for Colorado's children, Sen. Rollie Heath for helping to guide it through the process and the governor for his signature.

(In picture above, Teacher Casey Friesen prepares
her second-graders for their big moment with the governor.)