The ability to read is a fundamental component of success in school and life. While reading at all grade levels is essential, third grade is observed as the gateway when students are expected to move beyond learning to read and begin reading to learn. Research shows reading successfully by the end of third grade is a significant predictor of school success. To improve student outcomes the Iowa Legislature adopted a comprehensive early literacy law that focuses on making sure all students are prepared for academic success.

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Iowa Code 279.68 and Iowa Administrative Code 281-62 promote effective evidence-based programming, instruction, and assessment practices across schools to support all students to become proficient readers by the end of the third grade. General requirements are:

  • Provision of universal screening in reading for students in kindergarten through third grade
  • Progress monitoring for students who are at risk and persistently at risk in reading
  • Provision of intensive instruction – including 90 minutes daily of scientific, research-based reading instruction - for students who are persistently at risk in reading
  • Notice to parents that a student is persistently at risk in reading, including strategies the parents can use at home to help the child succeed
  • Notice to parents of such a student’s subsequent progress
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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan Support Site

A repository of tools and resources to support the work aligned to Iowa's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan.

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The purpose of the guidance documents are to aid Iowa’s public school districts in (1) interpreting and implementing Iowa Code 279.68, and (2) determining how best to use the funds provided by this code.

  1. Early Literacy Guidance provides the specific requirements and permitted actions by public school districts, frequently asked questions, and definition of terms.
  2. Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices are to be used as companion technical assistance to Iowa’s official guidance for 279.68. This document will be continually updated throughout the year, and revised versions will be highlighted for the user. Appendices are organized by topic:
    • Appendix A: Assessment: Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring
    • Appendix BContinuous Improvement
    • Appendix C: Data Reporting
    • Appendix D: Early Childhood
    • Appendix E: Finance
    • Appendix F: Intensive Intervention and Core Instruction
    • Appendix GParent/Guardian Notification
    • Appendix HPersistently at Risk
    • Appendix I: Specific Student Populations
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Support Materials

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Parent/Guardian Letters

To support schools in implementing the requirements of Iowa Code section 279.68. Below are example parent/guardian letters, contracts, and letters in translation, as well as meeting guidance and the link to the Parent (Guardian) Resources tab within the Iowa Reading Research Center website. More information about Parent/Guardian notification is available in Appendix G of the Early Literacy Technical Assistance.

  • Initial Parent/Guardian Notification
  • Contract between the Home and School
  • Progress Reports
  • Parent/Guardian Letters in Spanish and other translations
    • Arabic, Burmese, Karen, Kirundi, Lao, Nepali, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Vietnamese, Bosnia, Chinese (Mandarin) 
  • Early Literacy Progression Meetings

Image based languages were required to be posted as PDF. Schools can hand enter the student information or use Adobe Pro to complete the letters. All other languages are posted as Word documents that can be downloaded and individualized directly.

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2022-2023 ELI Allocations

2023-2024 ELI Allocations

2024-2025 ELI Allocations (available September 2024)

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