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Does Your District Have a Comprehensive K–3 Reading Policy?

April Repurpose Excelln Ed Content 2

We’re all dedicated to increasing literacy in the classroom, and a key step on the road to increasing literacy is evaluating your district and school’s support systems.

Checklists can help you determine where your school needs to step in with programming or community resources in order to best serve your students. Below is a checklist to help you determine if your district has a comprehensive K–3 policy and what else you can be doing to help struggling readers.

What does a comprehensive K–3 reading policy look like?

A successful reading policy is comprehensive, working at every level to support the student both at home and at school. This includes early identification of struggling readers, parent involvement, teacher training, intensive reading intervention, retention as a last resort, and more intensive intervention in the event of retention. Here’s an example of what your district can do to create a successful and comprehensive reading policy.

  • Administer early literacy screenings in Grades K–3 within the first 30 days of school to identify students with potential reading difficulties.
  • Notify the parents of any student identified with a reading difficulty in K–3.
  • Develop individual reading plans with the parent, and prescribe research-based reading interventions aimed at allaying reading difficulties.
  • Monitor student progress more frequently for those students who are identified as having reading difficulties.
  • Provide home reading strategies or programs to parents to support their child at home.
  • Provide interventions during summer or before/after school to students struggling in reading or potentially facing retention.
  • Job-embedded training should be provided for you and pre-service teachers to ensure that you have the knowledge and skills to teach reading to all students, including students with severe reading difficulties.
  • Existing local, state, and federal funds should be reprioritized to support policy implementation. Then, if needed, new funding should be provided to effectively implement the policy.
  • Retain students severely below grade level, specifically those unable to demonstrate sufficient reading skills for promotion to fourth grade.
  • Provide multiple opportunities to third-grade students to demonstrate reading skills required for promotion to fourth grade. One test on one day shouldn’t be the determining factor.
  • Provide good cause exemptions to retention that recognize the special needs of students with disabilities, English learners, and students who were previously retained.
  • Stage more intensive interventions with a highly effective teacher in the event of retention.

By checking to see if your district is fulfilling the items on this checklist, you can help ensure that you’re doing your best to help struggling readers succeed academically.

When students are strong readers, it helps them succeed in every realm of the educational landscape and prepares them for success both in college and in the workforce. That foundation begins early, and the sooner a struggling reader catches up, the better.

This content originally appeared on ExcelinEd and has been shared on Shaped with permission. Follow them on Twitter @ExcelinEd. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


Looking for ways to advance the literacy skills of all students in your district, including children living in poverty, English learners, and children with disabilities? Learn more about how HMH can help you achieve the goals of the Comprehensive Literacy State Development, a five-year federal discretionary grant awarded to 13 states.

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