Reading Proficiency

Early Reading Proficiency (Reading Well by Third Grade)

Basic reading proficiency is one of many developmental milestones in a child’s educational experience. Minnesota has identified the end of grade three as an expectation for proficient beginning reading for all students. Providing quality instruction, assessments, interventions, and curriculum is the foundation for developing comprehensive systems of support for all learners.

There is a saying commonly heard in discussions of early reading that says that students are learning to read in grades K-3, then instruction shifts to reading to learn in grades four and beyond. However, this view is unproductive as a stance for literacy instruction. Third grade proficiency does not represent the end of learning to read, as increasingly complex texts demand continued instruction in the skills and strategies necessary to gain adequate reading proficiency for later postsecondary or “career and college” success.

Likewise, students are far behind if it is not until grades three or four that they begin to learn and apply skills and strategies to comprehend from a variety of texts. Even as attention is placed on early reading to ensure all students acquire the foundations necessary for early reading success, it is important that reading instruction is comprehensive and provides modeling and practice at the word, sentence and idea levels in all grades. Reading is not just knowing and combining letters, sounds and words; it is a process of making meaning from text.


In the last Minnesota legislative session, new language was added to the Reading Well by Third Grade law that introduced three new district requirements:

  • Districts must identify students in grade 3 or higher who demonstrate a reading difficulty to a classroom teacher.
  • Districts must provide information to parents about the student’s progress in addition to information about reading-related services currently being provided.
  • Districts must continue to provide intervention to students not reading at or above grade level by the end of grade 3 until the student reads at grade level.
To view these and other changes in context, access and read the full reading intervention law (Minn. Stat. § 120B.12).

Reading Data and Plan Submissions

Minnesota districts are required to report K-2 summary reading data and identification efforts and to submit their Local Literacy Plans to the commissioner by July 1 of each year. Visit the Read Well K-3 Data and Plan Submission page for everything a district needs to meet this obligation.


The resources and information in the left navigation menu are available for Minnesota districts, schools and educators to use as tools in developing comprehensive literacy programs and practices that lead to increased student achievement at all levels.