Education Department leaders are asking the governor and legislators for more money to improve the reading skills of students in the early grades. Iowa Department of Education director Ryan Wise is asking for nine-million dollars to help finance summer school programs focused on reading proficiency.
Wise envisions using another five-and-a-half million dollars to develop “high quality training materials” and hold regional training sessions for teachers as well as Area Education Agency staff.
In addition, Wise says his agency hopes to get Iowa colleges and universities to “shore up” courses for future educators who’ll be teaching kids how to read.
Wise outlined a series of budget requests during a public hearing on Monday. The state has already been spending more than three million dollars a year on what Wise calls an “early warning” system.
Another eight-million dollar annual appropriation supports school districts “early literacy” programs. A national test this fall found fourth- and eighth-grade students in Iowa made no gains in the past two years in reading profiency, but Iowa students, in general, are better readers than the average U.S. student.