Bill targeting struggling elementary students aims to improve literacy levels

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 9:42 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - More Louisiana students may soon be failing third grade.

Improving the state’s literacy is on the mind of state lawmakers. House Bill 12, written by Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville), specifically addresses third-graders who are struggling to read by proposing to hold back students who are not at the appropriate reading level.

“If they do score in that bottom percent, then they will actually get two more tries to try and pass the test before the start of the next school year,“ Rep. Nelson said. “If they don’t pass in those two more tries, they will be held back and given extra intervention.”

2022 LEAP scores showed students in kindergarten through fourth grade are still falling behind average literacy rates.

State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley previously claimed the pandemic is largely to blame.

“It is a crisis we have faced for a long time, but unfortunately, over essentially a decade we’ve flatlined,” Brumley said.

Nelson’s proposal is based on Mississippi law. Three times a year through third grade, students will be given a test that will determine where they student stands. If they fail, extra efforts will then be implemented.

“It will kind of be a literacy-focused third-grade year when you come back,” Nelson said. “You are going to have a highly effective teacher. You are going to have extra time spent on reading, literacy and especially on phonics-based instruction.”

What impact will this have on schools? Nelson said Mississippi’s results showed 8% of students, roughly 4,500, across the state failed in the first year of the program.

The Department of Education would be in control of the testing threshold. Along with the changes already made, Nelsons said they are in a good place for the program to show success, not bogging down the system.

“It could be possible that we would actually see better results than Mississippi right off the bat because we have kind of implemented a lot of changes they had to put in place as they were going,” Nelson said.

The bill has passed the House and is now before the Senate Education Committee.