A bill that gives parents a say in promoting a student who fails a third-grade reading test will saddle teachers with additional reading instruction at the expense of other students for years to come, the state’s top education official said Thursday.
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, speaking at Thursday’s state Board of Education meeting, called the state Legislature’s decision to overturn Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of House Bill 2625 “an outrageous step backwards” and “returns us to social promotion, make no doubt about that.”
The bill allows a student who fails the test to still be promoted if a team of parents and educators unanimously approve.
“Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade teachers are going to have to now focus on teaching first-grade reading instruction,” Barresi said. “In other words, these kids are sounding out words. ... They’re not building vocabularies and comprehension, and I’m concerned for these children. I’m concerned for the extra burden on these teachers. It’s just so sad.”
Barresi added that she is concerned, too, about “the kids that are ready to move forward and learn, for the amount of time that will not be devoted to them.”
Board member Amy Ford agreed, saying, “We have done a huge disservice to teachers.”
“We’re going to ‘busy-work’ those kids that are on task. That are on point. That deserve the opportunity to learn,” Ford said. “And we’re going to have to concentrate on these kids to make sure they can read at first-grade level and second-grade level.”
Mariel DiCiano, a fourth-grade teacher at Wheeler Elementary in the Oklahoma City school district, said she works closely with third-grade teachers and their students, and will help decide during upcoming parent-teacher conferences what’s best for students who failed the test.