Kindergarteners work together during a reading intervention session Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Katie Hoiland's kindergarten classroom at Aragon Elementary in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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Colorado’s landmark 2012 reading law led schools around the state to spend more time helping struggling readers, an external evaluation found.

But the report leaves some key questions unanswered, including a specific accounting of how hundreds of millions of state dollars for struggling readers were spent and which interventions actually worked.

State officials said the evaluator — San Francisco-based nonprofit WestEd — will continue its work and potentially deliver answers to those questions in the future.

Lawmakers commissioned the multiyear evaluation in 2019 amid growing concern that efforts driven by the 2012 law, called the READ Act, had done little to boost reading scores among Colorado students. They earmarked up to $750,000 a year for the outside review.

The evaluation, which has cost about $1.5 million so far, recommends giving some schools more time to adopt science-backed reading curriculum, and cites several topics that need more study, including strategies to help English learners learn to read.

“The READ Act has made some progress in terms of changing behaviors, not quite as much as we would like to see yet,” said Floyd Cobb, executive director of teaching and learning at the Colorado Department of Education.


Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat Colorado covering early childhood education. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and the Denver Post. She holds a master’s degree in education policy from the University...