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K-4 Literacy

Technical Support

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Contact Information

Learning Assistance Program (LAP)


Strengthening Student Educational Outcomes (SSEO), ESSB 5946 (2013) and amended by SSB 5803 (2015) included several school and LEA mandates related to K–4 literacy. The 2015-16 school year was the first year LEAs and schools must implement all of these requirements.

Mandates for K–4 Literacy

Student-specific Strategies

For any student scoring Below Basic (Level 1) OR Basic (Level 2) on the 3rd grade ELA assessment the prior year, the district must implement an intensive reading and literacy improvement strategy from the state ELA Menu of Best Practices or an alternative practice or strategy as described below. See RCW 28A.655.235.

School-specific Strategies

For any school where more than 40 percent of tested students score Below Basic (Level 1) OR Basic (Level 2) on the 3rd grade ELA assessment the prior year: the district must implement an intensive reading and literacy improvement strategy for students in grades K–4 at the school(s) from the state ELA Menu of Best Practices. School districts may use an alternative practice or strategy not on the menu for two school years. After two years, to continue with an alternative, LEAs will need to demonstrate to OSPI it resulted in improved student outcomes at levels consistent with practices on the menu. See RCW 28A.655.235.

Family Meetings

Parent/guardian meetings and intensive improvement strategies are required for any students who are reading below grade-level and/or are likely to receive a score of Below Basic (Level 1) on the 3rd-grade ELA assessment. OSPI recommends using multiple measures, including diagnostic and formative assessments to determine whether or not a child will score at below basic level.

These meetings may occur throughout the spring and should be focused on the school's plan for supporting the student and the student's progress. At the end of the school year, the school district must receive parent/guardian consent regarding appropriate grade placement and the intensive improvement strategy to be implemented.

If the LEA does not receive a response from a parent by the deadline, or a reasonable time thereafter, the principal or the principal's designee shall make a decision on the student's grade placement for the following year and the intensive improvement strategies that will be implemented during the following school year. If the school principal and parent cannot agree on the appropriate grade placement and improvement strategies from the list of available options, the parent's request will be honored. See RCW 28A.655.230.

K–4 Report Cards

K–4 report cards are to include: 1) How the student is progressing on acquiring reading skills; and 2) Whether the student is at grade level in reading. If a student is not reading at or above grade level, the teacher must explain to the parent/guardian (as part of ongoing communications and/or through the meetings referenced in number 3): a) Which interventions and strategies will be used b) Which strategies for improving the student's reading skills can be used at home. See RCW 28A.320.203.

K–4 Literacy Data Collection
Schools/LEAs are required to report to OSPI at the end of the school year: 1) The number of K–4 students reading below grade level 2) The interventions provided to improve the reading skills of the students. See RCW 28A.320.203.

Directions: Once an LEA logins into the system, click on applications and then K–4 Data Collection.

Consolidated Program Review

For LEAs participating in this year's Consolidated Program Review, OSPI staff will include questions about implementation of these requirements at the district entrance interview and at the school building meeting. OSPI staff will be responsible for documenting the conversations. Questions will not be part of the formal checklist for this school year.

Intensive Strategies - Resources, Planning, Research

Family LiteracyPlan Your Literacy ProgramRetention Research

Family Literacy

A Child Becomes a Reader Birth through Preschool (National Institute for Literacy, 2006)

  • Short summary of the research
  • How parents can help their children to become readers from birth through age two and ages three to four
  • What to look for in day care centers and preschools that will help children become readers
  • Books for more information and organizations that support families with young readers

A Child Becomes a Reader Kindergarten through Grade 3 (National Institute for Literacy, 2006)

  • Short summary of the research relating to reading and writing
  • How parents can help their children from kindergarten through grade 3
  • How to identify high quality instruction
  • Books for more information and organizations that support families with young readers

Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success (U.S. Department of Education, 2010)
Principles and approaches parents can take - by age group - to help children learn at each stage of their academic life.

Plan Your Literacy Program

Overview, Resources and Templates for Third Grade Interventions
ESSB 5946: Sections 100, 200 and 300

Washington State Literacy
The Washington State Comprehensive Literacy Plan: Birth to Grade 12 (CLP) expands the definition of literacy, integrating the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, the English Language Proficiency Standards, and a multi-level instructional framework to guide core instruction and intervention supports for all students.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Framework (MTSS)
An MTSS framework is an evidenced-based process that emphasizes data-based decision-making. The instruction, assessment, and intervention are delivered to students with varying intensity based upon student need.

Washington State - Early Learning, Comprehensive Literacy Plan, Research-based Practices

Washington State Early Learning Development Guidelines: Birth through 3rd Grade

  • Support ECEAP and Head Start standards
  • Extend the guidelines through third grade and align with the K–3 learning expectations, including Common Core Standards
  • Reflect what we've learned about child development since 2005

Early Literacy Pathways (PDF, 28 pages)

The Early Literacy Pathways was created to support educators, caregivers and families in understanding and supporting Washington children's development in literacy and beyond. This document will support and enhance the conversation of how best to support every child future.

The Learning Pathways in Early Literacy was written using the following frameworks specifically in the areas of social-emotional development, cognitive development, language and literacy development, and reading and writing development.

  • Early Learning and Development Guidelines (ELG)
  • GOLD (formerly Teaching Strategies GOLD) (WaKIDS & ECEAP)
  • Head Start Early Learning Outcomes (HS)
  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

Washington State Comprehensive Literacy Plan: Birth to Grade 12

  • Focuses on birth to grade 12
  • Expands the definition of literacy to include new research on brain development and the skills needed for success in today's society
  • Integrates the Common Core State Standards and the Response to Intervention Framework
  • Encompasses all learning content areas
  • Promotes the use of technology
  • Ties it all together with the SAILS framework

Updated Inventory of Evidence- and Research-Based Practices: Washington's K–12 Learning Assistance Program The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) was directed to "prepare an inventory of evidence-based and research-based effective practices, activities, and programs for use by LEAs in the learning assistance program. The updated inventory is displayed on page eight of this report and is also available online. (WSIPP Reports)

Selection and Implementation - Tools and Resources

Summer Reading Camp: Self-study Guide
Self-studies that support planning and implementation of state-required summer reading camp programs for grade three students who scored at the lowest level on the state reading assessment.

The Hexagon Tool: Exploring Context (from the National Implementation Research Network's Active Implementation Hub)
Select evidence-based instructional, behavioral, and social-emotional interventions, and prevention approaches - review six broad factors in relation to each program or practice.

Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships
Preguntas y respuestas (Word) FAQs (Word) Infographic - Build Capacity Framework: Partners in Education

Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluation PreK-3rd Grade Approaches
Addresses key questions facing those who are developing PreK-3rd grade approaches in their school, LEA, or community:

  • What does a comprehensive PreK–3rd grade approach include?
  • The word "alignment" is used often, but what needs to be aligned?
  • What kinds of changes need to take hold in adults' behaviors before we can expect to see improvements in child outcomes?
  • What kinds of responsibilities need to be shared among 0-5 programs, grades K–3, families, and communities?

Learning Forward
Resources that help LEAs and schools plan, implement, and measure professional learning. Organizational focus on those who work in professional development for educators.

Retention Research

Retention in the Early Years
Literature review: individual studies, commissioned reports, several meta-analyses, and critiques of research methods dating back to the 1980's when seminal research was conducted. Not all of the literature examined in this FastFact was peer reviewed; however, several exhaustive peer-reviewed meta-analyses and critiques of these studies shed light on retention. This Fast Fact reports on findings highlighting common and contradictory themes.

Resolution on Mandatory Grade Retention and High-Stakes Testing
Position statement and resolution from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), ratified February 2015

Learning Assistance Program