A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Start Early, Finish Strong: How to Help Every Child Become a Reader - July 1999

Summaries of Recent State Laws on Reading for Children in Grade 3 and Younger

1996—June, 1999

These are some examples of legislative action being taken by states with regard to reading for children in grade 3 and younger. These examples were compiled primarily through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, the Education Commission of the States, and various state education agencies. Readers should keep in mind that in reviewing any particular legal questions they should consult the underlying state legislation, and that nothing in the following summaries of that legislation reflects the position of the U.S. Department of Education as to the meaning or effect of any state legislation or legal requirement.


HB 2130; enacted 5/98

Requires that beginning in the 2000-2001 school year, school districts that provide education for kindergarten through third grade shall implement research-based, balanced, comprehensive, language arts instruction, which includes instruction in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The measure allows parents to select the method of language arts instruction for their child. The bill also changes teacher certification requirements and appropriates $1 million for teacher training, including $25,000 toward the development of a statewide reading curriculum.

HB 2293; enacted 5/98

Makes technical changes to existing requirements regarding pupils who do not meet the literacy and reading comprehension standards set by the Board of Education by providing intensive reading instruction, without instruction in any other subject matter, until the pupil can meet set standards. Requires intensive reading instruction for pupils who cannot pass an “Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards” test, created by the Board of Education.

SB 1006; enacted 4/99

Appropriates an additional $6,533,500 in FY 2000 and $7,067,300 in FY 2001 to enhance reading programs for students enrolled in grades kindergarten through third grade.


AB 1086; The Reading Instruction Development Program; enacted 1997

Extends the multi-faceted California Reading Initiative by establishing two grant programs for inservice training in reading instruction, as follows: 1) grants for inservice training for certificated employees teaching kindergarten and grades 1 through 3, inclusive, and site administrators, and 2) grants for inservice training for certificated employees teaching grades 4 through 8, inclusive, and site administrators. Separate applications are required for kindergarten through third grade and grades 4 through 8.

AB 1178; enacted 9/96

Requires the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to develop, adopt, and administer a reading instruction competence assessment to measure an individual’s knowledge, skill, and ability relative to effective reading instruction. Applies to kindergarten through third-grade reading teachers.

AB 3482; Teacher Reading Instruction Development Program; enacted 7/96

Enacts The Teacher Reading Instruction Development Program, which would effectuate legislative intent, expressed in the bill, that each certified teacher of pupils enrolled in kindergarten and grades 1 through 3, inclusive, possess the knowledge and skills to effectively teach pupils to read. Enacts The Comprehensive Reading Leadership Program, which would encourage members of governing boards of school districts and teachers to implement comprehensive reading programs for kindergarten through third grade.

AB 2x; enacted 3/99

Establishes and provides funding, in the amount of $94 million, for six of Governor Davis’ initiatives in kindergarten through third grade reading instruction and teacher and principal preparation.

Elementary School Intensive Reading Program. Authorizes local school districts to provide multiple, intensive reading opportunities to students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade. Instruction is to be offered four hours per day for six continuous weeks during the summer or when school is not regularly in session (although instruction may also be offered at other times, including before school, after school, on Saturdays, and during inter-sessions.) Appropriates $75 million for allocation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to local school districts.

Governor’s Reading Award Program. Establishes awards of up to $5,000 per school site, to be distributed by the Secretary of Education based on the number of books read per student. Appropriates $2 million to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for this program.

Public Involvement Reading Campaign. Establishes a reading campaign to promote the message that reading is a key to success in life and the responsibility of all Californians. Appropriates $4 million to the Secretary of Education for this campaign. Governor’s Teacher Scholars Program. Requests that the University of California establish a rigorous teacher preparation program for talented students beginning July 1, 2000, at the UC-Los Angeles and UC-Berkeley campuses. When fully operational, the program is expected to serve 400 students—200 at each campus. Participants will receive scholarships equivalent to tuition and campus-based resident fees, be required to teach for at least four years in a low-income school, and be required to repay their scholarship assistance if they teach for less than four years. Appropriates $500,000 to the University of California to develop this program (scholarships are to be funded through private donations.)

Governor’s Principal Leadership Institute. Requests the University of California establish a rigorous, two-year administrator preparation program for talented students beginning July 1, 2000, at the UC-Los Angeles and UC-Berkeley campuses. When fully operational, the program is expected to serve 400 students—200 at each campus. Participants will receive scholarships equivalent to tuition and campus-based resident fees, be required to serve for at least four years in a public school, and be required to repay their scholarship assistance if they serve for less than four years. Appropriates $500,000 to the University of California to develop this program (scholarships are to be funded through private donations.)

California Reading Professional Development Institutes. Requests the University of California, California State University, and independent colleges and universities provide intensive reading instruction training to kindergarten through third-grade teachers—or those who supervise beginning reading teachers. The program began in June 1999 for up to 6,000 participants. Each participant receives a $1,000 stipend. Appropriates $6 million to the University of California to administer this program and $6 million to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to fund the stipends.


HB 1139; Colorado Basic Literacy Act; enacted 5/96

A kindergarten reading readiness level is established by State Board. State Board will identify and approve instruments for assessing kindergarten reading readiness and the literacy and reading comprehension level of each pupil in first, second, or third grade. No later than the 1998-99 school year, each district must assess on an annual basis the reading readiness or literacy and reading comprehension level of each pupil enrolled in kindergarten or first, second, or third grade using the state assessment. The bill also outlines an individual literacy plan for each student if literacy falls below the level established by the state. The General Assembly declares that reading is the most important skill to learn in school.

HB 1296; enacted 1998

Creates the Early Education and School Readiness Program to provide funding for programs that advance coordination of early education and school readiness programs at the local level, to help achieve school readiness goals for at-risk children. Grants under the program may be used for the following activities: age-appropriate reading readiness tutoring, which may include parental education programs to further family involvement in reading activities; the purchase of age-appropriate reading readiness materials to serve early childhood programs; grants for nonprofit and for-profit early childhood and education care centers, and family child care homes to become accredited; and grants for early childhood teacher or caregiver professional development.


HB 5657; enacted 5/98

Requires each local or regional board of education to develop and implement a three-year plan to improve the reading skills of students in kindergarten through third grade. The plan must be designed to allow all students to attain the standard of reading competency developed by the Connecticut State Board of Education. Requires the Department of Education to provide technical assistance to local boards.


HB 176aa; enacted 3/99

Identifies the Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan, adopted in January 1999, as the standard for student achievement in reading for grades kindergarten through third grade. Requires a kindergarten through third-grade reading assessment at least twice annually, with follow-up intervention for students with special needs. Charges the State Department of Education with publicizing the results of the assessments by school and district. States the Legislature’s intent that textbooks align with the Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan.

HB 177aa; enacted 3/99

Establishes an extended-year reading intervention program for students in kindergarten through third grade who are below grade-level in reading. Provides that the costs of the program, including a transportation allowance, will be reimbursed to the district by the state (subject to an appropriation.)

HB 178aa; enacted 3/99

Establishes a performance-based exam, consistent with the Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan, which new teachers must pass to be certified to teach in the state. Requires that kindergarten through eighth grade, special education, and Title I teachers and administrators must complete three credits, or the equivalent, in state-approved reading instruction to be recertified every five years. Creates opportunities for exemptions and “testing out” of the instruction.


HB 2887; Reading Improvement Block Grant Program; enacted 2/98

Amends the School Code on the Reading Improvement Block Grant Program (105 ILCS 5/2-3.51). Permits school districts participating in the Reading Improvement Block Program to use assessment methods other than the reading portion of the IGAP tests to measure student reading skills; provides that districts not demonstrating performance progress using an approved assessment method shall not be eligible for subsequent funding until such progress is established.


SB 006; Budget Bill; enacted 5/97

Among other provisions, this bill appropriates money for early intervention programs for reading in kindergarten through third grade. Also provides for improving school libraries’ printed material for kindergarten through eighth grade. Part of a two-year budget that extends through FY 1998-99.


HB 743; enacted 4/99

Provides school districts with resources for kindergarten through third grade early intervention efforts in basic skills instruction, especially reading. Earmarks funding for school districts to reduce class size in kindergarten through third grade to 17 students for every one teacher in basic skills instruction. Allows school districts the flexibility to use the funding to support reading programs. Requires school districts to notify parents at least twice each school year of the reading progress of individual students. Parents will also be notified of steps taken to improve students’ reading ability. Appropriates $100 million over four years for the initiative ($10 million in FY 2000.)


SB 186; enacted 4/98

Establishes the Early Literacy Incentive Fund; provides grants to schools to implement reading models, including phonics instruction; requires the State Board to establish an application process and the criteria for funding grants; requires applicants to allocate matching funds; creates The Collaborative Center for Literacy Development of the University of Kentucky to promote literacy development, including training educators.


HB 2444; Implementation of Reading Programs; enacted 6/97

Requires implementation of reading programs at each public elementary school to teach students to read at grade-level by the end of the first grade and provides for certain reports.


SB 2944; Reading Sufficiency Program; enacted 1998

Directs the State Board of Education to develop and implement a comprehensive Reading Sufficiency Program of Instruction—specifically designed to enable each student to reach the appropriate grade level of reading skills. Likewise, local school districts will be instructed to devise reading plans, including the following elements: additional in-school instruction time; readiness intervention programs; utilization of research-based training methodologies; and professional development for teachers and administrators.

New Hampshire

HB 229; Reading Recovery Training Program; enacted 4/97

Establishes a Reading Recovery Training Program in the Department of Education to provide training to all eligible first-grade teachers.


SB 055; Fourth-Grade Guarantee; enacted 8/97

Establishes what has become known as the Fourth-Grade Guarantee to ensure students are reading at least at grade-level before going on to the more demanding rigors of middle school and then high school. Among other requirements, the Fourth-Grade Guarantee includes: assessing each student at the end of first, second, and third grade to identify those reading below their grade-level; and providing intervention services following third grade, including intensive summer reading programs, to those students who need them.

HB 1; enacted 3/99

Involves recruiting, training, and organizing 20,000 tutors to work one-on-one with students to enhance their reading and comprehension skills. Creates an 11 member OhioReads Council, whose duties include awarding OhioReads grants, evaluating the progress of the initiative, and developing a strategic plan to recruit and train volunteers. Five members are appointed by the governor, one of whom must be a reading specialist and one of whom must represent an Ohio college of education. H.B. 1 abolishes the Council on July 1, 2004.

Establishes the OhioReads Classroom Reading Grants Program and the Ohio Reads Community Reading Grants Program. Establishes the OhioReads Office, within the State Department of Education, as the fiscal agent for the classroom and community reading grants. Permits recipients of OhioReads grants to request criminal record checks (including fingerprinting) on individuals applying to provide services directly to children. Requires the OhioReads Council, in collaboration with the State Department of Education and the Ohio Board of Regents, to review each university and college approved by the State Board to train teachers. Appropriates $25 million for the initiative.


HB 2017; Common Education-Literacy Act; enacted 6/97

Beginning with the 1998-99 school year, schools are required to assess all students enrolled in the first and second grades by multiple ongoing assessments for the acquisition of reading skills at that grade-level. Any student who is found not reading at grade-level will be given a reading assessment plan designed to enable the student to acquire the appropriate reading skill. Students who are on an individual education plan, have limited English proficiency, or for whom English is a second language are exempted.

HB 2878; The Reading Sufficiency Act; enacted 6/98

Requires each district to adopt and annually update a district reading plan that outlines how each site will comply with the Reading Sufficiency Act. Its modifications clarify that after-school tutoring does not count toward the 180-school-day-per-year requirement, specify the elements of reading instruction to be included in assessment plans, and call for a Reading Report Card for each elementary site.

South Carolina

HB 3696; enacted 6/99

Appropriates $3 million in initial funding for the Governor’s Institute of Reading, which will focus on the reading skills of students in kindergarten through third grade. The Institute will aim to strengthen reading programs statewide by providing expertise in research and techniques, grants to local schools, and professional development for teachers.

HB 3620; enacted 6/99

Provides $20 million for the Governor’s First Steps initiative for improving early childhood development. First Steps would prepare children up to age five for kindergarten by providing subsidies to make child care better and more affordable. It would also provide grants to involve parents in their children’s education


HB 001; General Appropriations Act; enacted 1997

The budget includes $32 million ($7 milion in 1998 and $25 million in 1999) for reading academies—“schools-within-schools” that focus on reading. Also created was the Read to Succeed program for early diagnosis of reading problems in kindergarten through second grade. Read to Succeed will be funded through the sale of special automobile license plates.

HB 107; enacted 6/97

Establishes Texas Education Code 28.006 for reading diagnosis. Among other requirements, the commissioner shall develop recommendations for school districts for administering reading instruments to diagnose student reading proficiency; for training educators in administering the reading instruments; and for applying the results of the instruments to the instructional program. Also, the commissioner is required to adopt a list of diagnostic student reading instruments for which schools may use state funds. Each school district shall administer, at the kindergarten through second- grade-levels, one of these reading instruments.


HB 067: Student Assessments of Reading Proficiency; enacted 3/97

Provides for an assessment of emerging and early reading skills of children entering kindergarten and the first grade; provides that school districts make available material to parents to assist in helping their children to master emerging reading skills and early reading skills.

HB 8; enacted 3/99

Appropriates $250,000 to community-based literacy efforts, $150,000 to volunteer training, and $100,000 to the Read to Me education campaign. Governor Leavitt had proposed $10 million for his literacy initiative, including a plan for mandatory extra classroom time for children not reading up to grade-level. Lawmakers passed a revised package.

HB 312; enacted 3/99

Commits $5.2 million to local school districts to develop personalized instruction plans for readers in first through third grades.


HB 527; enacted 6/97

Requires the State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Agency of Human Services, to develop a plan for services for early education to ensure that all children will read by the end of third grade and directs public schools to offer early reading instruction as well as intervention when necessary.


HB 4001; Appropriations for Virginia Reading Recovery Program; enacted 1998

Appropriates $141,581 to the Virginia Reading Recovery Program. The Virginia Reading Recovery Program was enacted in 1994 for those students identified at risk for reading failure in elementary schools. The purpose is to develop strategies that promote reading and independent learning skills, and better equip teachers to provide reading instruction. The funding is for the 1998-2000 biennium.

HB 1859; Remedial Instructional Programs; enacted 4/97

Requires students who do not pass the literacy tests to obtain the Literacy Passport to participate in summer school or after-school remediation programs; requires School Boards to establish remediation program standards committees, consisting of administrators, teachers, parents, and the community at large.

SB 558; Reading Incentive Grants; enacted 3/98

Establishes the Reading Incentive Grants Program and Fund, to be administered by the Board of Education; incentive grants would be awarded on a competitive basis to public schools demonstrating low pupil academic performance and be used to support successful reading programs, including but not limited to, the Virginia Reading Recovery Program.

HB 426; enacted 5/98

Allows school boards to employ reading specialists for each elementary school; provides that funding for such programs will be apportioned as given in the appropriation act.


HB 2909; Effective Reading Programs for Elementary Students; enacted 3/96

Directs the Ccenter for the Improvement of Student Learning, or its designee, to develop and implement a process for identifying programs that have been proven to be effective using scientifically valid research in teaching elementary students to read.

SB 2849; enacted in 1998

Focuses on raising reading scores by requiring school boards to set three-year improvement goals for kindergarten through third grade reading. Plans are mandated by 12/15/98, with frequent reports to parents and the media.

SB 6509; Reading Instruction Training Act; enacted in 1998

Provides funds for additional reading instruction opportunities that use tutors in the summer, during breaks, and during school hours. Provides funds for professional development and instructional material for beginning (kindergarten through second-grade) reading programs. Allows schools to apply for staff development, instructional material, and tutoring funds, with priority given to schools with low-scoring students.

SB 5180; enacted 5/99

Appropriates $8,000,000 in FY 2000 and $8,000,000 in FY 2001 for the existing Washington Reading Corps, a volunteer tutoring program.

West Virginia

HB 4306; WV Reads; enacted in 1998

Based on the recommendations of the State Commission on Educational Quality and Equity, establishes a new reading grant program: WV READS (Reading Excellence Accelerates Deserving Students). WV READS specifically targets kindergarten through fourth-grade students who do not perform at a grade-level by prioritizing schools with low test scores. County boards, or a community partner with the county board, are responsible for submitting the grant application, which will be used to fund both summer schools and intensive reading instruction during the regular school year.


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