Literacy Standards and Guidance

To ensure reading success for all students, Iowa has established standards and guidelines for universal literacy instruction, as well as targeted and intensive intervention for struggling readers.

Reading Instruction and Intervention

A survey commissioned by the Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) and conducted by Iowa’s Regent Universities shows inconsistencies in literacy instructional practices in Iowa schools, which may be contributing to stagnant reading trends reported among Iowa’s students for the past several years.

The survey found that:

  • A wide variety of approaches are used to teach reading at the universal, targeted and intensive levels;
  • A majority of schools allot 61-90 minutes for literacy instruction each day;
  • Teacher and principal knowledge regarding the design of reading interventions in their schools varies widely between districts and within districts.

State of PK-3 Literacy >

Early Literacy Implementation

Iowa literacy legislation and policy have been developed to promote effective evidence-based programming, instruction and assessment practices across schools to support all students becoming proficient readers by the end of third grade.

In addition to universal classroom instruction in literacy, evidence-based, instructional interventions at the Targeted and Intensive levels must be provided to each student who needs them. Schools provide additional, evidence-based instruction and support to those learners for whom universal instruction alone is insufficient. Iowa has established guidelines for addressing the needs of students identified as at-risk for reading failure.

Read the Iowa Early Literacy Implementation Guidelines >

Important components of Targeted and Intensive Intervention are listed below.

  • All students receiving additional interventions also receive full universal instruction in literacy.
  • Learners receiving Targeted Interventions are provided with small-group, evidence-based intervention to address their needs.
  • Learners receiving Intensive interventions receive individualized, evidence-based instruction in small group or one-on-one setting that includes instructional techniques to address student needs.
  • Targeted and Intensive interventions maximize student engagement, use specialized methods and materials, and have a high likelihood of improving student outcomes.
  • Learners performing above age-/grade-level performance expectations shall also be provided with Targeted or Intensive instruction and supports matched to their needs.

Iowa Early Literacy Guidance

Guidance documents aid Iowa school districts in interpreting and implementing the requirements of Iowa’s literacy legislation and policy regarding early literacy progression. The guidance document includes provisions for:

  • Universal screening in reading for students K-3
  • Progress monitoring of K-3 students at-risk in reading
  • Intensive instruction for K-3 students at risk in reading

See the Iowa Early Literacy Guidance documents >

Iowa Core Literacy Standards

The Iowa Core Literacy Standards describe what students should know and be able to do from kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts. The standards represent a set of common expectations for school districts across the state.

Visit the Iowa Core Literacy Standards on the Iowa Department of Education Website >

Iowa Early Learning Standards

The Iowa Early Learning Standards, 2012 outline what children birth to five years should know and be able to do in Iowa. This revised version includes information to assist childcare providers, early childhood educators, and families in supporting literacy development in young children.

See the Iowa Early Learning Standards >