The Nebraska Reading Improvement Act

The Nebraska Reading Improvement Act became law in 2018 with the goal that all Nebraska students are able to read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. During this past week, all Blue Hill K-6 students were administered a reading assessment called DIBELS.  The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills® (DIBELS) are a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills.  DIBELS assessments are given to students three times per year.

Any student in kindergarten through third grade performing below grade-level benchmark will be identified as having a reading deficiency for purposes of the Nebraska Reading Improvement Act.  A student who is identified as having a reading deficiency shall remain identified as having a reading deficiency until the student performs at or above the DIBELS grade-level benchmark consistently.  Blue Hill Elementary has already been implementing this reading intervention process (Multi-Tiered System of Support) for the past two years, so although it is written into law now, it has been part of our everyday practice for meeting the needs of all students.

Students that have a reading deficiency will be put in a reading intervention group that will match their specific needs.  This intervention time is scheduled in every grade and students are not pulled from any other subjects to receive the intervention.  Students not in interventions will have extensions during this time, with activities that will help to extend their learning.  

The Nebraska Reading Improvement Act states that each supplemental reading intervention program must: 

  • Be provided to any student identified as having a reading deficiency; 

  • Be implemented during regular school hours in addition to regularly scheduled reading   instruction 

  • Make available a summer reading program each summer for any student who has been       enrolled in grade one or higher and is identified as continuing to have a reading deficiency at   the conclusion of the school year preceding such summer reading program.

Our supplemental reading intervention program also includes: 

• Reading intervention techniques that are based on scientific research and best practices; 

• Diagnostic assessments to frequently monitor student progress throughout the school year and adjust instruction accordingly; 

• Intensive intervention using strategies selected from the following list to match the weaknesses identified in the diagnostic assessment: 

   o Development in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension; 

   o Explicit and systematic instruction with detailed explanations, extensive opportunities for guided practice, and opportunities for error corrections and feedback; or 

   o Daily targeted individual or small-group reading intervention based on student needs as determined by diagnostic assessment data subject to planned extracurricular school activities; 

• Strategies and resources to assist with reading skills at home, including parent-training workshops and suggestions for parent-guided home reading; or 

• Access to before-school or after-school supplemental reading intervention with a teacher or tutor who has specialized training in reading intervention. 

How can parents be supportive at home?

Teachers and parents should work together to ensure that students are strengthening their reading skills and are meeting milestones each year, so they are ready to advance to the next grade. There are multiple ways to support your child’s reading outside of the classroom.

1. Read something every day. Reading just 20 minutes each day can help your child’s reading skills.

2. Choose books of interest to your child to read.

3. Ask your child questions about what they read. Talking about the words in the book helps them understand what they are reading.

4. Make sure books are accessible. Your child will be more likely to pick up a book and read if they are out in the open and easy to find.

5. Sing rhyming songs, read rhyming books, and say tongue twisters with your child. This helps them learn new sounds in words.

6. Talk to your child. Use trips to the grocery store, dinnertime chats, and driving in the car as an opportunity to introduce new words and practice their speaking skills.

7. Talk about letters and sounds. Help your child learn the names of the letters and the sounds the letters make.

8. Have your child write. Writing grocery lists, notes, or letters helps children connect spoken words to written words.

9. Take advantage of community resources. Ask your child’s teacher or school librarian for help picking out books. Visit your local library for events and programs like reading clubs.

10. Reading doesn’t end when the school year ends. Help prevent the “summer slide” by reading over the summer months to better prepare your child for the next school year. 

We look forward to being a partner with you in the education of your child!

Lori Toepfer
Blue Hill Elementary School