Aug 5, 2021 - News

Charted: Iowa's early childhood literacy recovers

A chart of Iowa's K-3rd grade literacy screening assessments over time.
Chart: Iowa DOE; Source: Iowa Student Success Early Warning System

Early childhood literacy is on an upward trend in Iowa after it plummeted in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Driving the news: Literacy screening results for most Iowa students in K-3rd grade show reading skills slowly recovered by spring 2021. But they're still below pre-pandemic levels, according to the state Department of Education.

Catch up quick: In 2018, Iowa started testing kids' reading comprehension between K-3rd grade as a way to identify at-risk students.

  • The goal is for all students to become proficient readers by 3rd grade.

By the numbers: K-3rd grade students improved their reading skills collectively by three percentage points between fall 2020 and spring 2021, with 61% at or above the state's benchmark.

  • Most grade levels improved by four to eight percentage points.
  • Kindergarteners were the outliers, dropping from 68% in the fall to 61% by spring.
  • 93% of eligible students participated in the screenings.

Between the lines: The number of young students who tested at the literacy benchmark dropped ten percentage points between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

  • Improved scores are a sign of an upswing, but it'll take years of recovery to reach pre-pandemic levels again.

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