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Don't Let Iowa Kids' Improved Reading Skills Slide This Summer

Reading proficiency for Iowa students in kindergarten through third grade improved from 63.4 percent in 2017 to 67.6 percent in 2018. (Pixabay)
Reading proficiency for Iowa students in kindergarten through third grade improved from 63.4 percent in 2017 to 67.6 percent in 2018. (Pixabay)
May 29, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – An "early warning system" that monitors how well Iowa kids are learning to read in kindergarten through third grade is proving successful, according to the Iowa Reading Research Center.

Director Deborah Reed says teachers assess reading skills three times a year, so they can benchmark progress and identify kids who might be at risk. Those students are given either additional classroom instruction or after-school help, although it isn't mandatory.

Seventy percent of Iowa students in those grades met or surpassed statewide benchmarks last year. That's up four percent from the previous school year.

"So, the goal is to identify students early, and to get them into intervention, and to make some changes to the kinds of instruction that they're receiving, in order to prevent reading difficulties from taking hold," she explains.

In 2017, Iowa lawmakers eliminated a state-mandated summer reading program for struggling third graders. But intensive summer reading programs are often recommended for children who aren't proficient by the time they complete third grade.

With the school year winding down, making reading fun for kids during the summer can include trips to the local library, or bringing books along to the park or the swimming pool. Reed says often kids just need a little guidance.

"For many students, it's just finding the right kinds of books to get them really interested," she says, "But if you're not a strong reader, and a lot of our focus goes on those kinds of students. How do we help them?"

The Reading Research Center is located at the University of Iowa.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA