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Issue Position: Early Literacy versus Early Childhood Education

Issue Position

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A bipartisan group of legislators have introduced a bill that will encourage retaining (failing) students in 3rd grade until they have passed a state designed reading test. The bill, HB1238, is built on the best intentions and incorporates some interesting educational practices, but the key implementation mechanism -- holding children back based solely on their reading score - is not based on sound research and will cause serious problems for students and school districts alike. As of yet we have seen no estimate of the costs associated with the bill, but they will be substantial if any of the beneficial changes in educational practice are to be realized.

The same study that proponents of this bill are using as their rallying cry for their bill points to an even more concerning problem which this bill does nothing to address, "At a minimum, children must be ready to succeed when they get to school (cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically) before they can learn there." This tells me we need to reach our youngest students earlier, not merely command them to do better.

Colorado has very little funding for preschool. That is where we can get the most bang for our buck -- with respect to reading and all other aspects of school readiness. I believe we should fully fund the Colorado Preschool Program for all at-risk children before we spend money on a statewide experiment in mandating changes in every K-3 classroom in the state. Early childhood education is a far better investment than the rigid regime that the Early Literacy Act proposes.

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