This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
One-third of schools in Colorado’s second-largest district use a reading program the state has rejected and researchers have panned for promoting strategies that run counter to science.
Another 20% of schools in the 84,000-student Jeffco district rely exclusively on a district-created core reading curriculum that some educators and school board members say is hard to navigate and has numerous holes.
These problems came to light after Jeffco officials released a school-by-school list of K-3 reading curriculum on Oct. 9, meeting a long-standing request by parents, advocacy groups, and media outlets to make the information public. Previously, district leaders didn’t know what each of Jeffco’s 90 district-run elementary and K-8 schools used to teach children how to read.
The list of reading curriculums illustrates not only the stark differences between Jeffco schools, but also the large number of district schools that are out of compliance with a 2019 state law requiring them to use K-3 reading curriculum backed by science.
That law — an update of Colorado’s landmark 2012 reading law — was borne out of frustration from lawmakers, parents, and advocacy groups that the original law, the READ Act, barely boosted reading scores despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent.
Only about 41% of Colorado third-graders can read well, according to the most recent state test results. In Jeffco, the rate is 46%, but the district ranks lower than the state on another measure that reflects how much students improve from year to year.