First grader Serenity Schneider shows a book to a classmate while reading in Katlyn Smith's First Grade classroom Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at Aragon Elementary in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Hoping to push up Colorado’s persistently low reading scores, the State Board of Education on Wednesday opted for tougher rules around teacher training on reading instruction.

In calling for higher standards, the board lined up with advocates for students with dyslexia, despite objections from groups representing teachers, district administrators, and rural educators.

The new rules will govern the rollout of legislation that updates a major 2012 law — the READ Act — requiring districts to help struggling readers in the early grades. Many lawmakers and advocates are frustrated with the slow rate of progress, and many educators report that their preparation programs did not teach them how to teach reading.

While the board won’t take a final vote on the proposed rules till March, most members urged state education department leaders to keep a provision that requires trainings to be at least 45 hours long. They also opted — at least for now — to keep language indicating that the state education department would designate in advance which college reading classes count toward the training requirement.

Several key education groups, including the Colorado Association of School Executives, the state’s largest teachers union, and the Colorado Rural Schools Alliance, objected to the proposed 45-hour requirement in written comments.

Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association, said in a letter that the rule adds “additional workload and stress to educators and an educational system that is already significantly under resourced.”

But most board members weren’t swayed by such arguments.


Senior reporter — Chalkbeat Colorado. Email: Twitter: @annschimke