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Most Colorado K-3 teachers complete science of reading training

The vast majority of early elementary school teachers in Colorado received training in the science of reading – an important step in the state’s ongoing efforts to increase reading proficiency rates among Colorado schoolchildren.

According to state education officials, about 20,600 of the state’s roughly 23,000 kindergarten through third grade teachers met the 45-hour training requirement as of October. The science of reading is a large body of research on how children learn to read.

During two meetings this fall, including one on Wednesday, the State Board of Education has granted extensions to a dozen school districts where most, but not all, teachers have completed training. They include large districts like Adams 12 and Colorado Springs 11 and small ones like East Grand and Cotopaxi. In most cases, the reason teachers did not complete the training was because they were on family or medical leave or had other extenuating circumstances.

In September, officials from a handful of school districts told Chalkbeat about bureaucratic or logistical hurdles that prevented full compliance with training rules. For example, some teachers had recently moved from other states, transitioned to kindergarten through third grade jobs, or had not yet received the state ID numbers needed for districts to submit training data.

Floyd Cobb, associate commissioner for student learning at the Colorado Department of Education, said that in most districts seeking extensions, less than 5% of teachers have yet to complete training. The deadline for completion was August 1.

Receiving an official extension is important because there is money involved.

Districts where all K-3 teachers have completed training or districts where waivers have been granted will receive tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars — in some cases more than a million — to help readers in trouble. So far, this annual funding, which is due out in November, has not been tied to expanded mandates that apply to individual educators.

Cobb said Wednesday that eight of 179 districts still have not submitted data showing their K-3 teachers have completed training. Eight additional districts requested extensions but had not verified the data they submitted to the state.

The state could delay delivering reading money to these districts or withhold it altogether if they don’t meet the requirements, but it’s unclear if that will happen. State officials said they are still working to verify district compliance.

Ibeth Leon Ariza, who teaches newly arrived students in the United States at Homestake Peak School in the mountain town of Avon, said she liked the online training, which she took with a live instructor. Saturday last winter.

Originally from Colombia and a teacher there before moving to Colorado, she has more experience teaching reading in Spanish, which she says is different — and easier — than teaching reading. in English.

“It was very helpful to me,” she said of the training. “I have all the tools to support and teach my children and I apply this for my newcomers.”

The teachers had many ways to complete the education requirement, including through free online courses provided by the state, or other courses, such as Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading, or LETR. Teachers with certain specialist reading qualifications also met the requirement and did not need to take additional training.

The training requirement was one of many that gave more bite to the main reading law in 2019. At that time, lawmakers, education officials, and dyslexia advocates grew increasingly frustrated that millions of reading improvement dollars were pouring into school districts each year, but rates proficiency on state literacy tests had barely budged.

At the same time, many teachers said their teacher preparation programs had taught them little about teaching young students to read. The state has taken a two-pronged approach to addressing the problem – targeting both existing teachers and teachers-in-training. In addition to mandating K-3 teacher training under the Reading Act, the state pushed Colorado’s teacher preparation programs to purge demystified reading methods and ensure that the courses included science-based approaches to teaching reading.

Over the past three years, the state has ordered four traditional teacher-prep programs, including some of Colorado’s largest, to make changes to their reading courses after state examiners found shortcomings. Other universities are currently undergoing such reviews.

Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, covering early childhood issues and early literacy. Contact Anne at [email protected].

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