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More Than 83% of Students in Grades K-3 Reading Near or at Grade Level

November 4, 2020 – West Ada School District students in kindergarten through third grade are more likely to be reading at grade level than their peers across the state according to preliminary Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) data released last week. On average, 59.75 percent of K-3 students in the district are reading at grade level with another 23.5 percent reading near grade level.


The IRI was not administered statewide in the spring due to the pandemic. Results available through this fall’s testing offer educators and families alike the opportunity to see how the pandemic has impacted student learning. Five foundational reading skills – alphabetic knowledge, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency – are assessed by the IRI at the beginning of each school year.


Percentage of students in kindergarten:

  • at grade level: State 43.5, District 51
  • near grade level: State 29.1, District 29
  • below grade level: State 27.4, District 20

Percentage of students in first grade:

  • at grade level: State 41.7, District 50
  • near grade level: State 30.2, District 28
  • below grade level: State 28.1, District 22

Percentage of students in second grade:

  • at grade level: State 54.3, District 66
  • near grade level: State 21.9, District 17
  • below grade level: State 23.8, District 16

Percentage of students in third grade:

  • at grade level: State 58.2, District 68
  • near grade level: State 23, District 20
  • below grade level: State 18.8, District 11


Reading as Part of Everyday, Everywhere Learning

Educators are tasked with creating individualized learning plans for students who are not reading at grade level. These plans include reading outside of schoolwork. English language arts curriculum coordinator Laura Knutson offered some helpful information for students and the adults supporting them in the following question and answer listing.


How often and for how long should an adult read to/with a child?

Adults should read as much as they can with/to a child every day for as long as the child is interested. Shared lap time reading a book to and with a child is beneficial for social emotional support in addition to building reading skills. Model everyday reading as much as you can no matter what the age of the child. Babies love hearing the voices of their loved adults. Toddlers might have trouble sitting still to read a book, so read to them as long as they are interested. Do not force it. By kindergarten, students ideally should spend around 15-20 minutes daily reading outside of school. By third grade and up, 20-30 minutes of daily reading is great. Time spent reading is more valuable than overall pages read. Get your child a library card as soon as they can have one and make library visits part of your life. We have amazing city and county libraries in West Ada School District and excellent school libraries that are accessible to students enrolled in our schools. 


What sort of things should we read?

Shared lap time reading a book to and with a child is beneficial for social emotional support in addition to building reading skills, but model everyday reading as much as you can from reading street signs, grocery lists and labels, to feel-good stories from the newspaper and magazines in whatever format you have them. Engage children in conversation. Sing with them. Recite nursery rhymes and other poems. As children become more skilled readers, they can take turns reading to/with adults. Listening to audio books together also supports reading. Rereading books is something younger children love. Adults might tire of reading the same book over and over, children love the repetition and enjoyment of seeing/hearing new things each time a story is shared again. For more skilled or enthusiastic readers, allowing children to pick out their own books motivates them to read. 


Once a child can read on their own, can I stop reading to/with them? 

If that is what the child prefers, then yes, but keep making reading part of your life. Let children see you regularly read no matter how old they are. No matter what age, shared reading time is still a great bonding activity. Adults seek out book clubs, so why not continue to support that behavior in children as well?


How can I continue helping a child develop reading skills as they get older?

Talk to children about what they are reading. Ask them what they like or think about what they are reading. What is their book about? What do they think will happen next and why? Remember that reading is not limited to books. Do not force books on a reader who chooses not to read. Instead, find other ways to engage them in reading. If a student likes sports, provide them reading materials about sports. Teach them how to read scores and reports for various sports. If a kiddo loves video games, have them research new video games by reading reviews. Engage kids in reading to answer important questions such as which animal would make the best pet for our family and why? Why does Dad snore? Where does snow come from? Try to match texts to interests. Have fun and make reading part of your family's routine.