This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
A Colorado bill designed to make it easier for parents to find out how schools teach reading and spend funds earmarked for struggling readers has cleared another legislative hurdle and appears likely to become law.
The bill would require the state education department to publicly post certain pieces of reading-related information and, in turn, require schools to prominently display links to that information on their websites. On Thursday, a little over a month after the Senate approved the bill, the House Education Committee unanimously approved the legislation.
The transparency legislation comes out of an ongoing push by parents of students with dyslexia and other advocates to shine a light on the black box that is reading instruction at many Colorado schools. Currently, some districts make it hard for parents and the public to find out basic information about elementary reading curriculum, and to determine who’s using state-approved programs and who’s not.
Chalkbeat hit a variety of roadblocks over the last year when requesting lists of K-3 reading curriculums by school from several large districts. Leaders in Jeffco, Colorado’s second-largest district, at first said they didn’t know what reading programs their schools used because they had never collected that information before. It took months for the district to provide a list.
Other districts offered up lists full of holes. Officials in Douglas County, the state’s third-largest district, recently told Chalkbeat they had listed numerous schools as using “no published core program” because it was the only option under state education department rules.
A state education department leader subsequently told Chalkbeat the district was incorrect and could list any reading curriculum it wanted. District officials still haven’t responded to Chalkbeat’s follow-up request for a complete list of reading curriculum by school.