By: Michael Scott, Director of Teaching and Learning, Hutchinson Public Schools, ISD 423
The 2023 Minnesota legislative session ended with what seemed to be a record number of legislative changes that will affect Minnesota public schools. The Minnesota Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act, better known as The Read Act, was passed into law. The ultimate goal of this legislation is for every student, beginning in kindergarten, to read at or above grade level every year.
As a public school district, there are many aspects of The Read Act that Hutchinson Public School staff will be putting into place by the deadlines outlined in legislation.
One of the major components includes school districts using, starting in the 2024-2025 school year, a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) approved literacy screener for grades kindergarten through grade 3. This screening tool will assist staff in determining which students need further literacy intervention. Fortunately, the Hutchinson School District is already using approved screeners from FastBridge.
A second major component for school districts is to provide literacy training, starting July 1, 2024, to staff who are directly involved with reading instruction. This training is to include K-3 classroom teachers, pre-kindergarten teachers, special education teachers, K-12 reading intervention teachers and support staff, curriculum directors, and staff involved with the selection of literacy resources. The MDE has named the approved training options and will provide school districts with further guidance as the year continues in order to ensure completion of this training by July 1, 2025, by these staff members. In addition, by July 1, 2027, other staff who support literacy instruction will also need to receive this training.
A third component is the MDE will provide school districts by January 1, 2024, a list of evidence-based literacy curricular resources for districts. As explained on the MDE Read Act website, “A district must use evidence-based curriculum and intervention materials at each grade level that are designed to ensure student mastery of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension.”
As in the past, school districts will submit their local literacy plans to the MDE annually and submit student achievement data. In addition, by August 30, 2025, school districts must either employ or contract with a literacy lead to support the implementation of the Read Act.
As an educator and a parent, I do appreciate the emphasis and funding our state legislators have appropriated to literacy instruction, curricular resources, and staff training in an effort to increase reading proficiency for all students. After all, reading proficiency is the foundation for learning.
While your children are attending school, our staff will continue to strive to provide the best literacy instruction, resources, and interventions to help your child succeed. My hope is that components of the Read Act will assist our district’s staff in strengthening their literacy instruction.
In partnership with the instruction at school, I encourage you to read to and with your children as much as possible. As they encounter vocabulary or text that they don’t understand, explain to them the meaning of the words and the context of the passage. Talk with your children about their reading and emphasize that good readers reread for understanding. The more your child reads and uses the strategies learned at school, reading ability will continue to improve.