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Idaho Governor Signs Early Literacy Program into Law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Butch Otter signed into law H 451 and H 526, bills that establish and fund an early literacy program to help struggling readers and ensure all students are reading on grade level. The new laws follow Governor Otter’s bold commitment to early literacy efforts that ensure all Idaho students are successful readers by the end of third grade.

“Children who are not reading on grade level in the third grade are four times more likely to not graduate high school. The solution to prevent this from happening is prioritizing early literacy and putting the supports in place to create successful readers and learners. These new laws provide a safety net for struggling readers and ensure they are prepared for success when they enter the fourth grade,” said Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) CEO Patricia Levesque. “We thank Governor Butch Otter for his bold commitment to the children of Idaho.”

Before the third grade, students learn to read. After the third grade, students read to learn. The ability to read is key to success in school and in life. The new laws place an emphasis on parent-teacher collaboration and partnership. Parents will be informed about the status of their children’s educational progress and teachers will have the resources to effectively teach reading, assess student achievement, provide intervention when necessary and establish a solid foundation for a student’s academic success.

“Helping all children read proficiently, no matter their personal background, is the most important thing our schools can do,” said Idaho Business for Education (IBE) President and CEO Rod Gramer. “That’s because reading is the foundation of all learning. If a child can’t read, he or she can’t learn. IBE is so pleased that Governor Butch Otter made reading a top priority in his State of the State address this year and that the Legislature passed these two important bills that will help give the gift and the skill of reading to more of Idaho’s children.”

Under the new laws, the Idaho Department of Education will provide reports on the program to the state board of education, the public, the governor and the legislature and provide technical assistance as needed to aid school districts in implementing this law.

H 451 and H 526 earned overwhelming bipartisan support from the Idaho legislature and the backing of a strong coalition of education groups.