The READ Act and how changes in reading are on the horizon

Published 6:15 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

By Sheila Berger

Coordinator of K-4 Curriculum and EL Services

In the spring of 2023, the Minnesota Legislature passed a new law, entitled the READ Act.  The goal of the legislation is to have every Minnesota child reading at or above grade level, every year. Currently, Austin Public Schools is making plans for how to best fulfill the intentions of this new law.

Email newsletter signup

Austin Public Schools have been focused on improving reading outcomes for all students for many years.  We have annually screened students three times a year to monitor their progress in reading. What this piece of legislation means is that we will have support and guidance from the state level.  All Minnesota schools must train all teachers who deliver reading instruction based on researched methods.  The training is funded in part by the state.

The district has formed a district-wide literacy committee to help plan both the required training and how to deliver instruction to best meet the needs of our students. PK-4 staff training will begin next year.  Staff will work throughout the year to complete the state-approved training.  The district will then move to the 5-12 staff beginning the following year. The state department of education is also in charge of determining curricula that align with the law that can be used when districts purchase new reading textbooks. 

The new legislation is based on research called The Science of Reading.  This research has determined that learning to read is not a natural process but one that we must explicitly teach.  The human brain needs to learn pathways for letter sounds, so that it can recall those sounds when we encounter a new configuration (word).

Humans must have word recognition skills and language comprehension skills before they can attempt to comprehend what they are reading.

While many might believe this is new information, frankly it is not.  What is new is that rather than an either/or philosophy, learning to read must contain instruction in both word recognition and language comprehension before a reader is able to experience reading comprehension.

Parents play an important role in helping their children learn to read.  Talking with children at home, modeling the use of language, reading aloud to children daily, and exposing your children to public libraries are a few ways you can support your child learning to read.  Children’s listening vocabulary starts to develop at age 3 months.  Modeling language is critical to their eventual reading ability.

Make reading a part of every day at your home!