Early Literacy

Kids’ ability to read is one of the strongest predictors their likelihood to succeed in school and in life. Colorado Succeeds’ members have long championed early literacy, and the results speak for themselves. Fewer students across the state are behind in reading, a credit to smart policies backed by business leaders.

Colorado Succeeds’ early literacy work, described below, is a clear example of our philosophy of research, coalition-building, and action. Do you want to get involved in the fight for early literacy? Join us!


Proving the Possible

Starting in 2010, Colorado Succeeds started to shed light on the state’s literacy crisis through our report Proving the Possible. The report highlighted successful efforts to improve literacy, closely examining work in Florida and identifying opportunities for similar efforts to be replicated in Colorado. The findings in Proving the Possible made clear that in order to strengthen academic achievement and to shrink achievement gaps among students across our state, Colorado must take tough and determined action on early literacy.

Learn to Read, Read to Learn Conference

In response, Colorado Succeeds convened a diverse and influential coalition of community, business, and education leaders for the “Learn to Read, Read to Learn” conference in 2011. Working together, this coalition developed and championed the nation’s most innovative early literacy policy, known as the Colorado READ Act.


The Colorado READ Act

The Colorado READ (Reading to Ensure Academic Development) Act was signed into law in 2012, prioritizing early literacy and creating a support system to ensure every student can read by the end of third grade. After just one year of implementation, the READ Act has helped improve literacy rates in every corner of our state – for all subgroups of students: at-risk, low-income, and English-language learners, just to name a few.

These results are highlighted in our recent study, The Colorado READ Act: An Evaluation of Implementation and Outcomes after Year One. According to the report, statewide, the percentage of students behind in reading dropped from 16% in 2013 to 14% in 2014, accounting for nearly 5,000 students. The study also offers teachers and school leaders a playbook to replicate and scale examples of excellence, highlighting resources and best practices. By elevating the voices of successful educators, we hope to inspire increased collaboration and provide a roadmap to success.


The Road to Success Continues

While Colorado has made strong progress on early literacy, the work is not finished. We continue to protect key assessments that show whether or not literacy outcomes are improving for Colorado students. And we also continue to work closely with educators to identify opportunities to improve the READ Act and make sure it’s working for every student in the state. If you are interested in joining these critical efforts, join us.

READ Act Successes: Behind in Reading

The READ Act is having the greatest impact on students who are most at-risk.

English Language Learners


Students who Live in Poverty


The schools and districts that embrace the policy most are experiencing the greatest gains.

Students behind in reading at Primero Elementary School
Total Students
no longer behind in reading
after just one year
Drop in students behind in reading at Bryant Webster