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8.2 State Legislation
In Chapter 3: Assessment and the Identification of Dyslexia, universal screening for reading risk was discussed. Universal screening applies to all students and involves the use of short, targeted assessment of skills known to be predictive of future reading success or failure. Colorado’s Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (READ Act) requires universal screening for all students in grades K-3.
Colorado’s READ Act, adopted by the state legislature in 2012, focuses on early literacy development for all students in grades K-3, especially for students at risk of not reading at grade level by the end of third grade. The Colorado READ Act was amended during the 2018 legislative session. Colorado Read ACT Revised Statute can be accessed on the CDE Colorado READ ACT webpage.
The READ Act requires that all students in grades K-3 be screened for reading risk. Colorado has identified seven screening tests, commonly referred to as interim assessments, found on the CDE READ Interim Assessments webpage, that schools can use to determine whether students are meeting grade-level proficiencies or whether they show evidence of being at risk for reading failure. In addition to these interim assessments, the CDE has developed a Differentiated Pathways process. The process allows students with special needs and who require assessment adaptation and/or accommodations to be screened. Information regarding Differentiated Pathways and Students with Disabilities is available on the Colorado READ Act webpage, under resources.
The READ Act’s Minimum Reading Competency Skills serve as the guide for the end-of-the-year skills necessary to indicate a student is on track for acquiring basic grade-level reading skills. Minimum Skill Competencies for grades K-3 can be on the Colorado READ Act Resources webpage, under READ Act Tools & Resources. There the Minimum Skill Competencies can be viewed individually by grade level or in a matrix that shows the skills progression through the early grades
During the universal screening process as established by the READ Act, students who are found not meeting grade level expectations and scoring below established cut-points on the interim assessment used by their school or district are identified as having a “significant reading deficiency” (SRD). This term is not meant to denote a specific reading disability, such as dyslexia, but it is used to categorize students found to be at risk. Once a student is identified as having an SRD, the READ Act requires that an intervention plan — a READ Plan — be developed for the student. While the law outlines specific components that must be included in the READ Plan to ensure the effectiveness of the intervention strategies, each READ plan must also be tailored to meet the individual needs of each student. The CDE has a number of helpful documents (e.g., READ Plan checklist, READ Plan sample) that can be accessed online on the Colorado READ Act Resources webpage.
Throughout the READ Plan implementation process, decisions about instruction and intervention should be made in collaboration with the student’s parents. Parents should receive regular, ongoing updates from their student’s teacher about his or her reading progress after participating in the required reading intervention. The student’s teachers must review the READ Plan annually to determine whether, after intervention, the student meets grade level minimum competencies or whether the plan requires updating or revision to accelerate progress toward meeting grade-level reading competencies. Although READ Plans are established during grades K-3, a READ Plan remains in place until the student achieves grade level reading competency.
It is important for the school to be aware of factors that may be early indicators of risk for dyslexia when they are determining what type of intervention will be used to meet the requirements of a READ Plan. A family history of dyslexia, a private assessment of early language skills or early reading skills that identifies concerns, or the student’s history of early language delay or difficulties are examples of factors that may elevate the degree of “risk” for a specific student and lead to the provision of an evidence-based intervention that is especially effective for students with dyslexia.