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Up next in Colorado’s bid to help struggling readers: New training for thousands of teachers

The new teacher training requirement is among a raft of recent state changes meant to ensure teachers know and use approaches to reading instruction backed by science

Kindergarten teacher Katie Hoiland holds a reading intervention session Wednesday, January 23, 2019 with kindergarteners at Aragon Elementary in Fountain-Fort Carson. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for their newsletters here: ckbe.at/newsletters

As part of an effort to boost persistently low reading proficiency rates, Colorado education officials will soon require 25,000 K-3 teachers to have completed 45 hours of training on reading instruction.

While there are several ways for teachers to comply with the new rule, which came out of a 2019 update of Colorado’s landmark reading law, the state is spending about $500,000 to provide educators two free options. Both adhere to the state’s more than 50 criteria for teaching elementary reading, including direct and sequenced phonics instruction.

The free training options include an online class scheduled to roll out in late June through the Public Consulting Group, a Boston-based company with an office in Denver. The firm has developed K-3 literacy training for Connecticut and New Mexico, and is currently working with the Colorado Springs 11 district on a strategic plan.

The second option was supposed to be a face-to-face training offered by state education department staff who were to receive training from a different Massachusetts company, Keys to Literacy. With the coronavirus pandemic limiting travel and gatherings, company leaders and state officials are now trying to hammer out an alternative format, both for state staff to receive the training, and in turn, for those staff members to train K-3 teachers.

The new teacher training requirement is among a raft of recent state changes meant to ensure teachers know and use approaches to reading instruction backed by science. Officials have also cracked down on teacher preparation programs to ensure their literacy courses adhere to state standards. And starting next year, the state will require schools to use reading curriculum backed by science in kindergarten through third grade.

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