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Colorado’s Young Readers Will Benefit From Boosts to Early Literacy Program

Colorado policymakers are improving an important program to help more students read at grade level by the time they leave third grade – one of the most critical, life-changing skills in a child’s development.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1393 earlier this week. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Millie Hamner, Rep. Tony Exum and Sen. Bob Gardner, strengthens the state’s Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act.

“By helping its children become capable readers, Colorado is strengthening its entire education system. Literacy skills are foundational to success in school and beyond, ensuring a better educated and secure workforce throughout the state. I commend the leaders and partners who championed this impactful legislation.


“ExcelinEd thanks Rep. Hamner, Rep. Exum and Sen. Gardner for their support of the READ program and the students who will benefit. We also thank Stand for Children-Colorado for their relentless and dedicated leadership on this issue.”


Patricia Levesque, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Excellence in Education

The legislation:

  • Increases funding to local education providers for the Early Literacy Grant program while also increasing funding for implementation by the state Department of Education
  • Requires local education providers to use funding directly on early-grade reading initiatives
  • Ensures that assessments and literacy programs are evidence-based
  • Clarifies and emphasizes development and training for teachers
  • Instructs the state’s education commissioner to convene a working group to review and improve READ plans

“Our goal is to dramatically improve early literacy in Colorado so that all students are prepared for success in school and later in life. We have a strong policy in place in the READ Act, but have learned a great deal over the years as the law has been implemented.


“House Bill 1393 makes important improvements that will support educators teaching students to read while providing critical funding to a grant program with proven success. We applaud Rep. Hamner, Rep. Exum and Sen. Gardner for their leadership on behalf of Colorado kids.”


Krista Spurgin, Executive Director, Stand for Children

The data is sobering. Students who aren’t reading at grade level before entering fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. And black and Hispanic students from low-income families who aren’t reading at grade level are eight times more likely to drop out of high school. And the hard facts are that high school dropouts are not eligible for 90 percent of the jobs in today’s economy.

For more on the importance of early literacy, visit our policy library.