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It is hard to argue with the fact that reading is the key skill needed to succeed in school.
In fact, according to the Children’s Institute, a student who is reading proficiently by the end of third grade is four times more likely to graduate from high school.
Sadly, in Missouri, too many students do not meet that key milestone. According to the state’s own numbers, 40 percent of students taking the MAP tests last year failed to read at a proficient level and 60 percent of fourth and eighth-grade students taking the more rigorous NAEP assessment fail to read at a proficient level.
Thankfully, in the final days of the 2018 legislative session, state lawmakers are considering new legislation that would create a safety-net for K-3 students to help ensure more students are reading at grade level.
The Reading Intervention Bill, SB 949, would require all districts and charter schools to administer a reading assessment to all K-3 students within the first 30-days of schools. Students who show a deficiency on the assessments would then be placed into an evidence-based reading intervention program which may include more dedicated time, daily targeted evidence-based reading interventions, more opportunities for error correction and feedback, and a summer reading camp during summer school.
Additionally, parents of students with reading deficiencies will be notified of the issues and offered a read at home plan as well as suggestions for participation in parent training workshops and/or parent-guided home reading activities.
The bill would also require districts and charters to report assessment data to the state which will be used to provide an annual report that will be sent to the State Board of Education, the governor, and the Joint Education Committee.
The proposed legislation is expected to create no additional costs to districts or charter schools because the required interventions are already funded through the state funding formula.
The bill would also remove requirements to retain students who are reading below the third grade level by the end of their fourth-grade year, a move that is based on new research that shows that retention in elementary grades can have long-term negative impacts on the students.
SB 949 has been passed by the Missouri Senate and is being considered by the Missouri House this week.
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