Reading Achievement Requirements

Senator Karen MorganSenator Karen Morgan is sponsoring Senate Bill 150, “Reading Requirements for Student Advancement.”  She presented her bill this morning in the Senate Education Committee where it passed unanimously.  Startling statistics emphasize the need for a minimum standard for reading achievement in the early elementary grades.  Twenty percent of students cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade.  More than 15% of students drop out of school between the 9th and 12th grades.

Morgan’s bill requires students in first, second and third grades to read at or above grade level prior to advancing to the next grade, with certain exceptions.  She stated, “Children learn to read in first, second and third grades.  After third grade, they read to learn.  A child must have basic reading skills in order to be successful as they move into the upper grades, and this bill will help to ensure that each child receives the help necessary to develop this vital skill.”

SB 150 requires schools to provide information to parents at the beginning of the school regarding this standard for grade advancement, to notify a student and the student’s parent or guardian before the middle of the school year if there is any possibility the student may not qualify for promotion, and to provide focused remediation to provide the help the student needs to achieve grade level.

SB 150 includes exceptions for students with disabilities and also allows a principal to provide an exemption and advance a student if the principal deems it to be in the best interest of the student.  A child has until August 15th to meet the standard and qualify for advancement to the next grade.

3 thoughts on “Reading Achievement Requirements

  1. Please reconsider the action proposed in this bill. While I am in full agreement that we need to support struggling readers in our educational system, retention is not the answer! The research is overwhelmingly against such a practice. There is no evidence that retention does in fact help struggling readers catch up. While, initially there is some evidence that students gain, after two years all gains are lost and students have once again fallen behind. Beyond such statistics is the overwhelming evidence of the devastating psychological effects of retention – the high school dropout rate for students who are held back in elementary school is 11 times that of their peers who are not held back.
    I would welcome any discussion with you on this issue.
    Cathi Allen, Bountiful, Utah 801-292-4734/801-557-2603

  2. Here are some more thoughts on this. I was talking to someone about this at the school that one of my kids goes to and here is what she pointed out:
    1) There is no money attached to the bill for remediation, intervention or retention – all of which will cost money.
    2) The latest scientific research is showing that student retention does not improve reading levels or student performance.
    3) The August 15th deadline to prove proficiency is after school has started for year round schools.
    4) What is the likelihood of a student being retained and then re-joining their grade level when reading improves? They will be behind grade level peers in other areas such as math, science and social studies.

    Also it has been shown that some of these students may have vision problems. They may have 20/20 but there are some underlying eye problems. I am working on getting more information that I can share at a later date. They will be able to explain it much better than I can.

    So I ask that you reconsider this action.


    Rick Titus, Riverton, Utah

  3. I am very surprised at this bill. What is the research that inspired you to sponsor this? I completely concur with Cathi Allen’s comments. As a long time educator and more importantly for me, the mother of a child who in first, second, and third grade was reading below grade level, I can not see any good coming from this bill. It would have been devastating for my daughter to be held back. She was very aware of her reading struggles and wanted to hide that at all cost from her friends. According to resource regulations, most children are not qualified as learning disabled until they are 2 years behind grade level. That means many first and second graders would not yet have a “learning disability” designation that exempts them from this law. That was certainly the case with my daughter who by the way is a senior in college majoring in elementary education. Besides this action being unnecessary, the idea of not attaching money to it is equally surprising. How will those children get intervention and what about the huge cost for retaining these children in the system? At a time when our support staff, especially reading specialists, has been reduced in our school district, it seems short sighted to propose yet another bill without money attached to truly address the problem.

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