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Reading, Writing, and Communicating

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CDE Position Statement: RWC Standards & English Language Learners 

The Colorado Academic Standards in Reading, Writing, and Communicating were written for all students using the content, concepts, skills, and language conventions and structures found within the English language. This does not mean students must be native English speakers, nor fluent English proficient, but by utilizing the Colorado English Language Proficiency standards (Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education) in tandem with the Colorado Academic Standards, qualified and well prepared educators can ensure that all English learners receive appropriate support to ensure all students successfully meet the expectations in the standards.

About the Colorado Academic Standards Review and Revision

Colorado House Bill 20-1032 (section 22-7-1005(6) C.R.S.) amended the provision that required the regular review and revision of the Colorado Academic Standards.  The statute previously required the revisions to occur within six years of the prior cycle which occurred in 2018.  The changes now require the state board to review and revise approximately one-third of the standards beginning in 2022 and an additional one-third every two years thereafter. For information on upcoming review and revision phases, process, and/or committees, please click here.

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Academic Standards

The reading, writing, and communicating standards invite students to use texts to better understand others' experiences in the world and to command language in order to articulate their own perspective on the human experience. The standards intentionally reflect the read-write connection and the relationship between critically consuming text to build knowledge and producing texts to convey knowledge.

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Curriculum Support

Article IX, Section 16 of Colorado's constitution states, "Neither the general assembly nor the state board of education shall have power to prescribe textbooks to be used in the public schools." However, CDE can still serve as an advisor to help districts and schools adopt, adapt, develop, or use the materials of their choice.

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Instructional Support

Instructional support is grounded in CDE's shared approach to Best, First Instruction as well as practices and strategies supported by professional organizations and scholars at the leading edge of reading, writing, and communicating education.

  • 2020 READ Act Approved Professional Development: The professional development programs listed have been reviewed and approved to meet the criteria for the evidence-based training in teaching reading requirement for kindergarten through third grade teachers as defined by the Colorado READ Act.
  • Achieve the Core: Achieve the Core focuses on increasing the availability of high-quality, standards aligned instructional resources; increasing awareness and selection of those resources by educators; and building the capacity of educators to align instruction for all students to standards.
  • Anti-Racism Education: This list of resources centers around raising the critical consciousness of both students and educators through closely reading, writing, and communicating about the inequities in everyday social, environmental, economic, and political situations.
  • Disciplinary Literacy: Disciplinary literacy is the fundamental element found in all disciplines of the revised 2020 Colorado Academic Standards. As such, understanding disciplinary literacy is critical to being standards literate.
  • High Impact Instruction in Diverse SettingsThis page provides a variety of resources and recommendations for providing instruction in diverse learning settings.
  • High Impact Instructional Strategies: This chart aligns high impact instructional strategies with desired student skills for reading, writing, and communicating.
  • Instructional Shifts in English Language Arts/Literacy: There are three prominent “instructional shifts” that distinguish the demands of the Colorado Academic Standards
  • K-3 Evidenced-Based Reading Training RequirementsColorado school districts are required to ensure all kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers complete evidence-based training in teaching reading by the 2021-22 school year, as a result of changes to the Colorado READ Act in SB 19-199 (PDF)

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There are many opportunities to connect and grow as a professional educator with the larger reading, writing, and communicating education community, including mail lists, professional organizations, and events.

  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE): NCTE amplifies the voice of educators through personal connection, collaboration, and a shared mission to improve the teaching and learning of English and language arts at all levels. 
  • Conference on English Leadership (CEL): The Conference on English Leadership offers a collaborative, dynamic, discussion-based forum for literacy leaders to explore current and emerging issues. 
  • Colorado Language Arts Society (CLAS): The Colorado Language Arts Society is the state affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a professional association of educators in English studies, literacy, and language arts.
  • Colorado Counsel International Reading Association (CCIRA):  CCIRA collaboratively encourages, supports, and advances literacy through researched-based instructional practices to increase literacy access to all. 
  • ReadWithMe.Today: Of the widely accepted essentials children need to thrive, reading is often the one we forget to provide. Therefore, CDE has launched a public information campaign to encourage and empower parents to make reading part of their daily routine with their children. 
  • RWC e-Updates: ​The RWC e-Updates are designed to keep literacy educators and leaders abreast of CDE news, updates, and announcements, state and national professional learning opportunities, and high impact instructional strategies to employ in the classroom. 

Important News, Announcements, and Updates 

State Board extends deadline for READ Act teacher training

The State Board of Education granted a six-month extension for kindergarten through third-grade teachers to complete the training requirements in evidence-based reading instruction required by the READ Act. Teachers will now have until Jan. 31, 2022 to complete their training requirements. The extension is contingent upon districts notifying all K-3 teachers of the requirement by Dec. 1, 2020.  The department anticipates including an assurance that districts, BOCES, and charters schools have communicated the requirement as part of the annual READ data collection this spring.  Districts, BOCES and charters that do not meet the requirements will be ineligible for READ Act funds for the 2022-23 school year. Teachers have various avenues for completing the teaching requirement, including a no-cost option provided by the Colorado Department of Education.  

For more information about the training requirement, check out the CDE website, or contact Andreia Simon, in the P-3 Office, at

CDE Launches Campaign on Importance of Reading to Children at Home

DENVER – To increase awareness of the importance of early literacy, the Colorado Department of Education today launched a public information campaign to encourage and empower parents to make reading part of their daily routine with their children. The campaign is required by legislation passed in 2019 to revamp the Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ Act) -- a statewide initiative enacted in 2012 to improve literacy for children in kindergarten through third grade with the understanding that the ability to read, digest information and think critically is foundational to future academic success. 

U.S. Department of Education awards Colorado a five-year, $16 million grant for literacy advancement

DENVER - The U.S. Department of Education awarded Colorado a $16 million grant to implement the Colorado Comprehensive Literacy Project, which aims to advance literacy skills for children from birth to grade 12 with special emphasis on disadvantaged children, including children living in poverty, English learners and children with disabilities. The Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program is a competitive federal grant that seeks to improve literacy in the state by using evidence-based practices, activities and interventions, including pre-literacy skills. The grant will span five years and will provide funding to districts through a competitive grant process. 

New READ Act UIP Requirements 2020-21

What are the new READ Act UIP Requirements?

For information on training and office hours to support these new requirements, visit the UIP Training Page

2020 Colorado Academic Standards and Colorado Measures of Academic Success: Students to Read and Comprehend Independently and Proficiently

The 2020 Reading Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) expect students to read (decode a printed or tactile code) and comprehend (make meaning of) literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.  In accordance with the full implementation of the 2020 Reading, Writing and Communicating CAS in the 2020-2021 school year, Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) will mirror the standards’ expectation that students combine their phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and text comprehension reading skills to demonstrate mastery of the 2020 CAS independent reading expectations. Assessment administration adjustments that change this expectation, such as reading the text from the CMAS English language arts assessment to the student, should not be used and will result in an invalid administration starting in spring 2022. Students may continue to use accommodations that do not change this expectation. 

Accommodations generally refer to adjustments to standardized testing materials or procedures which allow students to demonstrate their learning without changing what the assessment intends to measure. Accommodations maintain the expectations and rigor of the content of the assessment. Scores resulting from accommodated administrations are considered valid and may be interpreted the same way as results from non-accommodated assessments. Adjustments to the administration of an assessment that change what the assessment measures are considered modifications rather than accommodations because they fundamentally change the assessment’s intended measure and therefore do not result in valid scores. Modifications produce scores that cannot be interpreted through the same lens, compared or aggregated together. Because the CMAS English language arts assessment measures the reading and writing components of the CAS, providing auditory presentation of printed text changes the assessment’s focus from reading and comprehension of text to listening and comprehension of text, which falls under different, unassessed listening standards.

Information relating to the use of accommodations during instruction is found on the CDE Office of Special Education webpage.

For further assistance, please contact:

Olivia Gillespie
RWC Content Specialist
P 303.866.6583 | C 720.930.1298