New proposal aims to improve literacy levels in elementary schools
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - According to the latest data from the Louisiana Department of Education, less than half of students in the state between kindergarten and 3rd grade are reading at their grade level.
A new proposal at the legislature aims to make sure they do not move on to the next grade before they are ready. Reading levels for elementary students in Louisiana have been below average for some time. And with students being sent home for remote learning during the pandemic, those levels took a nosedive.
“The pandemic exacerbated the problem, but it was here long before we experienced the challenges of COVID-19. The goal is simple: we know from birth to 3rd grade we’re learning to read and then from 4th grade on we’re reading to learn,” said John Wyble, President and CEO of the Center for Literacy and Learning.
Republican State Rep. Richard Nelson believes his proposal is a key piece to the puzzle of helping kids with reading problems.
“HB269 would prohibit the promotion of third-graders who score in the bottom tier in state reading assessments and require they receive intensive training to remediate that,” said Rep. Nelson.
Nelson said his plan is modeled after Mississippi’s plan they adopted in 2013. That plan brought them from a 49th ranking eight years ago to being ranked 29th in the country. But, some lawmakers still had concerns.
“Would this inflate the size of 3rd-grade classes potentially to a point where physically we would have some issues?” asked Sen. Robert Mills (R).
“I would say the first year you implement this is going to be the year that you hold back the most. And as those other students get that intensive remediation and as this system improves and does what we want it to do, you’re going to end up holding fewer and fewer back. So, I would say it’s probably going to be a temporary surge maybe the first year, but we can control that by what that cutoff score is so we can negotiate what we can handle,” Rep. Nelson replied.
Students will have three chances to pass before the next school year to try to catch up to their classmates.
“The previous version of the bill didn’t prohibit that; it allowed that three-tier implementation but now the bill explicitly says you’re gonna get at least three chances to pass that assessment before you would be held back,” Rep. Nelson continued.
Without any objection, the bill passed and now just needs full senate support before it heads to the governor.
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