Schools begin implementation of Alaska Reads Act

Schools across the state begin implementation of Alaska Reads Act
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 3:32 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 3:34 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new state law that aims to turn low reading scores around takes effect in classrooms across the state this school year.

The goal of the Alaska Reads Act is to have every student reading at grade level or above by the time they graduate from third grade.

Nicole Sommerville, Director of Teaching and Learning for the Anchorage School District’s Elementary Division, is in charge of implementing the program in Anchorage. Sommerville said the act requires students to be screened for reading proficiency three times a year.

Parents whose students are found to be struggling will get a letter from the district starting next week.

“Those letters will go home to just those students who are below or far below proficient in their reading scores,” Sommerville said. “With them will be something called a ‘home connect letter’ and that’s the letter that describes what the tests were and where the child actually scored on each of the subcategories to get their reading score.”

Sommerville said parents who receive letters shouldn’t panic — the act requires schools to provide interventions for students who need them and to communicate regularly with parents about student progress.

“Every student that’s below or far below proficient in reading will have what’s called a TIF [targeted intervention form] and those will be discussed with parents at parent teacher conferences. That is where we as a school district and a school are telling our parents, this is what we are doing — these are the areas where your student needs help in, and this is what are providing to your student to help them get caught up.”

Sommerville said the Anchorage School District is already doing many of the things the act requires but will be communicating with parents more often.

“The Alaska Reads Act requires we notify parents 10 times over the course of a year how a student is performing, and that’s basically every two weeks. "

The district has produced a video to explain how the act works and what families can expect. Sommerville said parents who have questions shouldn’t hesitate to contact their child’s teacher or school.