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Briefs: New literacy law, campaign

Monday briefs

The Colorado READ Act, the 2012 legislature’s signature education blll, officially went into effect Sunday. July 1, the start of the state budget year, is the traditional effective date for many new laws.

The state Department of Education already is at work on the new law – applications for program executive director close later this week – but the real ramp-up comes next spring.

The State Board of Education has a March 31, 2013, deadline to adopt a definition of “significant reading deficiency” – a key part of the law – and to issue a list of approved literacy tests. CDE has to make the list of approved tests available by next April 1 and to provide advisory lists of instructional and professional development materials by July 1, 2013.

Districts and schools will be implementing the program in the 2013-14 school year. The goal of the law is for all students to be reading at grade level by the end of third grade. To achieve that, the reading abilities of K-3 students will be tested annually. Schools will have to develop individual “READ” plans for kids whose skills meet the standard of “significant reading deficiency.” Teachers and principals can recommend that lagging K-2 students be held back, although the final say will rest with parents.

For a lagging third grader, a superintendent can make the final decision to hold the student back.

The READ Act is one of the rare pieces of Colorado education reform legislation with a real budget behind it, about $21 million a year. Districts will receive extra per-pupil funding for struggling readers starting in 2013-14, and additional grants will be available for professional development costs.

Read the full text of House Bill 12-1238 here.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was among the mayors launching the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network on Friday, announcing what organizers describe as “a national movement of local leaders, nonprofits and foundations … putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading.”

The network includes 124 cities, counties and towns in 34 states and represents 350 school districts. Mayors from Sacramento and from Providence joined Hancock for Friday’s press event in Denver.

“We realize that we cannot have great cities without great public schools,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has pledged to make his city first in the nation to have all third graders reading on grade level.

Members of the network will have access to an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities, meetings with national experts and policymakers, and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs, according to a press release. Learn more about the campaign.

New feature:

It’s a dead-quiet week for education events, given that the 4th falls on Wednesday. Check out our new calendar feature for upcoming events during July.

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