ADEL — Governor Kim Reynolds says a focus on what’s called “the science of reading” will improve the reading skills of Iowa students.

The governor went to Adel Tuesday afternoon and sat among a group of first graders as their teacher, Erin Koelker, led them through a reading lesson. The Adel-DeSoto-Minburn district adopted the science of reading three years ago in all grades and Travis Welker, the administrator in charge of the project, said they’ve had “amazing results.” Four years ago, tests showed a quarter of the district’s K-11 students were not skilled readers. This year’s results show 95% are proficient at reading and writing.

“Our teachers have taken this on at all levels. We’ve asked our high school teachers to engage in this, not just our lowest grade levels, ” he said, “and the results speak for themselves.”

Reynolds chose an ADM board room as the site for signing a bill into law that says Iowa schools must develop a plan for each student in first, second or third grade who is not reading at grade level. The law does not outlaw the “three-cueing” reading curriculum, but it does require testing of Iowa college students who want to be teachers to gauge their knowledge of the science of reading.

The most recent data shows 35% of Iowa third graders aren’t reading at grade level. “That’s why we’ve made it a priority to empower all teachers and school districts with the tools they need to implement the science of reading in their classrooms by providing critical training at no cost to 6000 teachers and 600 administrators,” Reynolds said.

About $9 million is set aside in the state budget for that training.

“Stay tuned because I think this is something we’re going to be able to show progress year after year and really have some good wins to talk about,” Reynolds said.

The governor spoke with reporters at the end of a hallway the Adel school had named “Literacy Way.”

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