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Did this Colorado transparency law make it easier to understand how schools teach reading?

Parents who fought for the curriculum transparency measure say the state’s databases fall short

Jessica Moore works with students in small groups on reading comprehension during St. Vrain's 2019 Project Launch Summer Academy. (Handout)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

Colorado has unveiled an online database showing what reading programs schools use in kindergarten through third grade, part of a broader state effort to improve how schools teach reading.

At a time when lawmakers in many states want teaching materials publicly posted in order to limit what schools teach about race, gender, and history, the reading database is a very different example of curriculum transparency. It’s part of a package of publicly searchable data mandated by a 2021 state law championed in part by dyslexia advocates.

The effort represents Colorado’s first attempt to shed light on details that have long been out of reach for parents and the public, including what reading curriculums schools use and whether those programs have the state’s seal of approval. A 2019 state law requires Colorado schools to use reading curriculum backed by science. State officials have established a list of a dozen core programs that meet this bar.

Parents who fought for the curriculum transparency measure say the state’s databases fall short. No curriculum is listed for one-third of schools, and other information required by law is incomplete or missing entirely, said leaders of COKID, a statewide dyslexia advocacy group.

But other reading advocates said the new databases are a good starting point and can be beefed up down the road.

“I was worried that it was going to be wonky, hard to navigate, and in the weeds, but I think it’s actually useful,” said Krista Spurgin, executive director of Stand For Children. “I imagine us … when we do literacy workshops with parents, actually showing them this tool.”

Read more at chalkbeat.org.


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