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 3 as an expectation for proficient beginning reading for all students. Providing quality curriculum, instruction, assessments, and interventions is the foundation for developing comprehensive systems of support for all learners.

Reading to Learn. 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 4 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 post-secondary or “college and career” success. 

Likewise, students are far behind if it is not until grades 3 or 4 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.

What’s New?
Last 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 provided on the pages linked on the left side of this page 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. Summaries of the content of each of the pages are provided below:

Local Literacy Plan Development. Districts are required to develop a local literacy plan to ensure that all students are reading well by no later than the end of third grade. This collection of pages provides guidance and resources to assist efforts to understand and meet the demands of early reading intervention and the requirements of Reading Well by Third Grade law (Minn. Stat. § 120B.12).

Minnesota Literacy Policy. This page provides a summary of state policies that govern literacy efforts in Minnesota.

Reading Research Reports. Minnesota’s legislature and the Department of Education conduct, commission, and receive a variety of research efforts around the literacy performance of Minnesota students. This page contains those reports.

What is Dyslexia?
The definition of dyslexia is included in Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.01. As stated in statute, "dyslexia" means a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent recognition of words and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Read more in the Dyslexia section.