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Senate bill aims to have every child in Louisiana reading before they leave 3rd grade

The assessment would evaluate each K-3 student’s reading and literacy level.
Credit: Emily Wood / LSU Manship School News Service
The Senate passed a bill by Sen. Sharon Hewitt to require literary assessments for each K-3 public school student.

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Senate voted 29-0 Thursday to require public schools to create and develop a literary assessment for every K-3 student.

“Every child should be reading before they leave the third grade,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, the bill’s author. “Not just 50% of them, as we learned when we did a survey several months ago.”

The assessment would evaluate each K-3 student’s reading and literacy level. It would be given within the first 30 days from the beginning of school, and the results would tell teachers and principals the percentage of students reading below, at or above grade level.

If a student is found to be below the reading level for that grade, the school would have to notify the parent or guardian in writing within 15 days. The school would also have to provide the parent or guardian mid-year and end-of-the-year updates as well as suggest tools to use at home to increase the student’s reading level.

Present law only requires the Louisiana Department of Education to provide reading and literacy criteria for K-3 students to meet.

Hewitt said the current process lacks accountability. “This bill is going to establish that and put all the supports in place to be able to do so,” she said.

The bill, SB 222, would require each public school to submit a report of the assessment results to the Senate and House Committees on Education no later than 90 days after the school term begins.

It also would require the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to revise teacher certification requirements by no later than July 31, 2022.

This revision would include additional literacy standards in educator preparation programs like effectively teaching foundational literacy skills, teaching students with significant literacy deficiencies, behavior management and administering literacy assessments.

The bill will need to be considered by the House.

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