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Frequently Asked Questions about READ Plans for Grades 4-12

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The Colorado READ Act passed in 2012 by the Colorado legislature with the purpose of ensuring every student in Colorado can read at grade level by the time they exit third grade. The legislation was born out of convincing research by a variety of sources, including by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, that shows students who cannot read by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. The provisions of the Act promote early identification of reading difficulties and effective intervention to quickly close reading gaps and ensure all Colorado students can demonstrate a level of competency in reading skills necessary to achieve success in school.

READ Act starts by making sure all students receive instruction in the foundational skills of reading. This continues through the grades until each third-grade student can read with ease, understand the materials, and think critically. What happens if a student enters into the fourth grade and cannot read grade-level texts with ease, demonstrate understanding of grade-level material, and/or think critically as asked in the Colorado Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, and Communicating? What happens if the same student has been identified as having a Significant Reading Deficiency (SRD) and is subsequently placed on a READ plan prior to leaving third grade? What does it mean when a student in grades 4 thru 12 is on a READ plan?

The frequently asked questions and subsequent responses below are the first step in our phased, but targeted approach to provide guidance, support, and resources to districts regarding the topic of READ Plans beyond third grade.


Jump to a section:


READ Plans for Students in grades 4-12: Who receives a READ plan? 

Who receives a READ plan?

The READ Act requires the creation and implementation of an individual intervention plan, called a READ plan, for students in K-3 identified as having a significant reading deficiency (SRD). Colorado's READ Act requires that a READ plan acquired in grades K-3 remains in place until a student has reached grade level reading competency. 

Do students in grades 4-12 need a READ plan? 

Yes, but only if the student was identified as having a significant reading deficiency (SRD) and was placed on a READ plan prior to entering fourth grade. C.R.S 22-7-1206 (6) states, "Each local education provider shall ensure that a teacher continues to revise and implement a student's READ plan until the student attains reading competency, regardless of the student's grade level and regardless of whether the student was enrolled with the local education provider when the READ plan was originally created or the student transferred enrollment to the local education provider after the READ plan was created."

What happens if a student continues to be identified as having a Significant Reading Deficiency (SRD)? 

If a student is identified as having a significant reading deficiency (SRD) for a second or subsequent consecutive school year, then the local education provider shall ensure that in the second or subsequent consecutive school year: (I) The student's teacher revises the student's READ plan to include additional, more rigorous strategies and intervention instruction to assist the student in attaining reading competency, including increased daily time in school for reading instruction; (II) The principal of the school in which the student is enrolled ensures that the student receives reading instruction in conjunction with and supported through the other subjects in which the student receives instruction during the school day; and (III) If practicable, the student receives reading instruction from a teacher who is identified as effective or highly effective in his or her most recent performance evaluation and has expertise in teaching reading. (b) In addition, with the approval of the student's parent, the local education provider may provide to the student mental health support from the school psychologist, school social worker, or school counselor.

What if a student struggles with learning to read but is not identified as having an Significant Reading Deficiency (SRD)? 

Students who struggle to read, but who have not been identified as having an significant reading deficiency (SRD) prior to entering the fourth grade do not require a READ plan.  C.R.S. 22-7-1206 (2) (a) states, "If a student's reading skills are below grade-level expectations, as adopted by the state board, but the student does not have a significant reading deficiency (SRD), the local education provider shall ensure that the student receives appropriate interventions through the multi-tiered systems of supports or a comparable intervention system implemented by the local education provider. At a minimum, the local education provider shall ensure that the student receives educational services in a daily literacy block for the length of time identified as effective in research relating to best practices in teaching reading. 

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Writing READ Plans for Students in Grades 4-12: How should schools write READ plans?

How should schools write READ plans in grades 4-12? 

C.R.S 22-7-1206 outlines specific components that must be included in a READ plan to ensure the effectiveness of the intervention strategies; but, each READ plan must be tailored to meet the individual needs of each student. The CDE Literacy Team has created a series of videos to assist local education providers in writing READ plans. 

How should schools best draft a READ plan for a student with an IEP? 

An Individual Education Program (IEP) is required by federal law for students found eligible for special education services and a READ Plan is required by state law for students identified as having a significant reading deficiency (SRD). While the legislation allows some options for combining a READ plan with an IEP, the necessary components of a READ plan may not be appropriate for inclusion in an IEP. A local decision making team will determine, in consultation with their local legal team, whether a student with an eligible disability should have both for a READ plan and an IEP, or if the required components of the READ plan can be implemented via the student's IEP. Administrative units (AUs) or school districts may elect to consistently keep READ plans and IEPs separate, as a matter of policy. The decision making team should include parents, general education, and special education personnel working with the student. For more information about READ plans for students with disabilities, please visit the guidance document READ Plans for Students with DisabilitiesBuilding administrators and team members should consult with their special education coordinators, directors, or legal team when necessary to ensure their actions are aligned with the policy in the AU/district. Each case presents unique variables that a team should review to determine the plan that will be used specific to the READ Act's required components. 

How should schools best draft a READ plan for multilingual learners?

Recognizing the unique language and literacy needs of English learners (ELs) to become proficient readers in English, the Colorado Department of Education has created additional guidance for implementation of the READ Act with English Learners. This guidance is designed to provide parameters for districts to use when developing local policies and practices support the literacy development of English learners. As of October 2017, the State Board of Education amended rules which authorizes districts to determine the language in which a student who is an English learner takes reading assessments in kindergarten through third grade. All other sections of the READ Act remain the same. With this in mind, Colorado school districts have the authority to approach implementation of the READ Act with English learners in ways that are appropriate for their local context and individual needs of students, and are responsible for doing so in alignment with the requirements and intent of the READ Act and in compliance with other relevant state and federal guidelines. 

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Systems and Structures: How can schools support students on READ Plans in Grades 4-12?

How can schools support students in grades 4-12 on READ plans and teachers who support students on READ plans?

Schools need to have a functioning multi-tiered systems of supports in place to be able to appropriately screen and assess students as well as provide layers of support needed. The attributes of a multi-tiered system of support contribute to more meaningful identification of learning problems related to literacy achievement, improve instructional quality, provide all students with the best opportunity to learn to read, assist with the identification of learning disabilities specific to learning to read, and accelerate the reading skills of advanced readers. 

How can teachers in other content areas support students on READ plans in grades 4-12?

Disciplinary literacy is the intersection of content knowledge, experiences, and skills necessary to demonstrate understanding through the ability to read, write, communicate, and think critically using approaches unique to a specific discipline or content area. Each discipline or content area requires students to employ particular knowledge, tools, and abilities to communicate, create, and use information within that discipline or content area (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012). Teachers, in all disciplines or content areas, therefore, must apprentice students through scaffolded instruction and guided practice, helping students “develop the capacity to read disciplinary specific texts through an insider perspective” (Buehl, 2011, p. 10). For more information and resources, please see Disciplinary General Resources and Teaching Literacy in Content Areas.

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Curricula Alignment: What Curricular Programs Should Schools Use to Support Students with READ Plans in Grades 4-12?

What curricular programs should schools be using in grades 4-12? 

The Colorado Constitution and our state laws give much authority to administer schools to local communities. Many pre-kindergarten through 12-grade public education decisions on issues such as curriculum are made by the 178 school districts and their local school boards. With final curriculum adoption decisions resting with districts, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) does recognize its unique position to offer guidance, technical support, and resources to assist districts in selecting curricular programming that is scientifically and evidenced-based. 

Included in the READ Act is the requirement that the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) create an advisory list of evidenced-based or scientifically based instructional programming in reading, pursuant to C.R.S. 22-7-1209. The main purpose of the READ Act Advisory List of Instructional Programming is to provide districts and schools with a choice of instructional programming that adequately enhances teacher quality and is a major vehicle that schools/districts can utilize to upgrade their capacity as it relates to the implementation of evidence-based literacy practices. With this said, it is important that during the curricula adoption process for grades 4-12, districts select intervention programming that will address the foundational skills that students need with a developmentally appropriate approach. Some of the programs listed on the CDE Advisory List of Instructional Programming do offer curricular choices for grade levels beyond 3rd grade. It is, however, important to note that CDE's review process of the programs listed are grade specific, and were not reviewed for grade levels beyond the third grade. However, CDE has created and compiled tools and resources to assist districts and schools in vetting and selecting scientifically and evidenced-based instructional programs

How should schools align curriculum and instruction to support students on READ plans in grades 4-12?

Schools and districts have more options than ever from which to find curriculum that meet their local priorities. The selection process is a critical lever for ensuring that scientifically and evidenced-based curriculum and subsequent materials are adopted and then used well in classrooms. EdReports provides districts with a comprehensive approach complete with belief statements, steps, checklists, and case studies to support curricula adoption.  

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Indicators and Instructional "Look Fors" of Dyslexia in Grades 4-12: How can secondary teachers support students with dyslexia?

What do I do if a student has indicators of dyslexia?

There has long been consensus among reading researchers, cognitive scientists, and those who have spent hundreds of hours teaching students with dyslexia that there is an approach to reading instruction that is based in science, uses evidence-based strategies and most importantly, is effective. Structured Literacy is not a program but an approach to instruction that emphasizes the structure of language. These language structures include phonology (the speech sound system), sound/symbol associations, syllable structures, orthography (the writing system), syntax (the structure of sentences), morphology (the meaningful parts of words), semantics (word meaning and the relationship among words), and the organization of spoken and written discourse. For more information about supporting students with dyslexia, visit chapter 4.3 in the CDE Dyslexia Handbook.  

What indicators of dyslexia should I look for during instruction and/or assessment?

Current research into the early identification of dyslexia suggests that children at risk for dyslexia can be identified early when intensive interventions are the most effective. The National Institute of Health has found that children at risk for reading failure can be reliably identified with 92% accuracy even before kindergarten through the use of an effective screening process. For more information about early screening for dyslexia, visit section 3.2 in CDE's Dyslexia Handbook. For more information about how dyslexia may be present itself at different stages of development, visit section 2.3 in CDE's Dyslexia Handbook. 

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Assessing Students with READ Plans in Graders 4-12: How often should students on READ plans in grades 4-12 be assessed? 

How often should students on READ plans in grades 4-12 be assessed during the school year? Should it be the same as K-3?

The READ Act requirements for assessment of students in grades 4-12 can be addressed through the Colorado Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (COMTSS) frameworks and supported by Response to Intervention (RtI) processes in place within each local education provider. By systematically evaluating and analyzing student progress through ongoing universal screening and progress monitoring, educators are able to more efficiently use their available resources and improve student performance. Information yielded by these data sets allows educators to use the same problem solving process embedded in COMTSS and RtI to identify educational challenges and accurately determine which students should continue on a READ plan. Data sets will also inform the type and intensity of intervention to be included in the plan, progress monitoring systems to determine if supports are adequate, as well as data to determine when sufficient progress has been made to warrant fading supports in the READ plan as grade level competency is achieved. Utilizing these structured processes will meet the mandates of IDEA as well as the READ Act. 

What assessment data should schools use?

Assessment data used by the local education provider should be guided data from diagnostic, interim, observational and summative assessments focused on areas of need identified in the student's READ plan. 

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Progress Monitoring: Who is responsible for progress monitoring READ plans in grades 4-12?

Who should be responsible for progress monitoring of READ plans in grades 4-12? 


The local education provider or school shall monitor the ongoing progress of students determined to have as significant reading deficiency (SRD) by administering interim assessments periodically throughout the school year and by collecting a body of evidence demonstrating student progress toward grade level competencies within the Colorado Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, and Communicating. Once a student with a READ plan demonstrates grade level competency, he or she may be removed from his or her READ plan. 

Reporting Requirements for Students in Grades 4-12: Are districts required to report READ plan data for students in grades 4-12?

What reporting requirements exist for students on READ plans in grades 4-12?

The Colorado READ Act requires districts to report specific student level to CDE to determine and report on the important milestones in implementing key revisions of Senate Bill 19-199. Districts must annually report the information necessary to determine the prevalence of significant reading deficiencies (SRDs) among students in grades K-3. District must also report whether students in grades 4-12 remain on a READ plan. The information provided in this report will be publicly reported. To identify 4th-12th grade students in your district, please pull the “Student Extract of 4th-12th Graders with a Significant Reading Deficiency (SRD) in the Prior Year” report in Cognos

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Transitioning Students Off READ Plans: How do schools transition students in grades 4-12 off READ Plans?

How do schools transition students off READ plans?

Colorado’s READ Act requires that a READ plan acquired in K-3 remains in place until the student demonstrates grade level reading competency. When the scores on the assessment(s) determined by the school and/or district and the body of evidence indicate that the student can demonstrate grade level competency in reading, the student may be exited from the READ plan. When making the decision to remove a child from a READ plan, the local education provider should consider the context in which the student demonstrated reading competency and the likelihood the student will continue to progress in reading without the READ plan in place.


  • Has the student demonstrated mastery of the minimum competencies consistently over multiple measures?
  • Does the student demonstrate reading competency in all subskills measured by the assessment?
  • Does the assessment data align with the additional body of evidence?
  • Is the student able to maintain grade level competency through Tier 1 instruction alone, or does the student require additional supports through Tier II or Tier III interventions in order to maintain grade level competency?
  • If the student is an English Learner, are adequate language supports provided through Tier 1 programming, including English Language Development instruction, to ensure continued progress in reading?

Each local education provider is responsible for adopting procedures for determining the criteria for exiting students from READ plans beyond the third grade; therefore, it is highly suggested that the procedures adopted comply with the requirements of the READ Act, which can include specific procedures for exiting a READ plan as indicated in legislation.

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What is the process for exiting a student from a READ Plan?

When the local education provider has determined that a student has demonstrated grade level reading competency, the process of exiting the student from the READ Plan may begin. In alignment with the requirements of the READ Act, the local education provider should:

  • Document on the READ plan the assessment scores and the body of evidence that supports the student has demonstrated grade level reading competency.

  • Ensure the READ plan, supporting documentation for the plan and the body of evidence that demonstrates the student has reached grade level reading competency is included in the permanent academic record.

  • Communicate with the student’s parent or guardian that the student has reached grade level competency in reading and will be removed from the READ plan.

Once a READ plan is discontinued, the student should continue to receive scientifically based and evidence-based reading instruction

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What body of evidence is needed for decision making?

The Colorado READ Act defines a body of evidence as a collection of information about a student’s academic performance which, when considered in its entirety, documents the level of a student’s academic performance. A body of evidence, at a minimum, shall include scores on formative or interim assessments and work that a student independently produces in a classroom. The body of evidence may include scores on summative assessments if a local education provider decides that summative assessments are appropriate and useful in measuring students’ literacy skills (C.R.S. 22- 7-1203). 

A body of evidence should be used to inform implementation of scientifically and evidence-based core instruction and intervention for all students. For students who are determined to have a significant reading deficiency (SRD), a body of evidence is used to inform the development and implementation of a READ Plan. For these and all other students, a body of evidence should guide instruction and interventions. To effectively inform literacy instruction, all components of reading should be addressed in the body of evidence. The progression of skills and interconnectedness of the components of reading should also be considered. The Colorado Academic Standards and Minimum Reading Competency Skills provide guidance for skills at each grade level.

A complete body of evidence for students’ literacy skills includes multiple sources of formal and informal data that address all components of reading and oral language. When selecting evidence, teachers should ensure that the assessments or tasks align with the skills and competencies for the components of reading. Teachers should also ensure the data accurately measures the skill deficits and areas of need identified.

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