Parents of Oklahoma students who fail a third-grade reading test would be given alternatives to having their children held back under two bills approved Monday by the state House Common Education Committee.
An upcoming third-grade reading test has created a public furor because of concerns that hundreds of students will be held back for reading below grade level. Oklahoma City school district officials have indicated nearly one in four of their third-graders are reading below grade level and are in danger of being held back.
House Bill 2625 promoted by state Reps. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, and Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, would prohibit a student from being retained based solely on their performance on one test, Casey said.
Under the bill, if a student fails the third-grade reading test, a team made up of a parent or guardian, a teacher, the school’s principal and a certified reading specialist, if the school has one, would meet to decide if retention was in the best interest of the student.
Intensive reading instruction and support would be made available both to students who are retained and those who are promoted to the next grade.
“Additional flexibility is needed,” Casey said. “Children aren’t all the same.”
Another bill by state Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, would create an appeals process for students who do not pass the third-grade reading test or meet its good-cause exemptions for promotion.
“The grounds for an appeal may be based on, but is not limited to, a hardship or extenuating circumstances,” House Bill 2773 states.
The appeal would be to the local school board and intensive reading instruction would be provided to the student, even if the student wins the appeal and is promoted.
Both bills passed the Common Education Committee by 12-2 votes and will now go to the full House.
The committee rejected another bill that would have moved administration of the school nutrition program from the state Education Department to the state Agriculture Department.
House author Lee Denney, R-Cushing, contended the Agriculture Department would do a better job of getting Oklahoma-grown foods into the school lunch program.
The committee defeated House Bill 2641 by a vote of 5-8.