Alabama’s reading law might held back thousands of 3rd graders, school head says

MONTGOMERY, Ala.  – According to the latest report, Alabama’s education administrator has voiced concerns over the potential retention of 10,000 third-grade students due to the state’s newly implemented reading standards. This move could potentially prevent these students from moving on to the fourth grade this summer.

Starting this academic year, the high-stakes requirement will come into effect. The lawmakers of the state postponed its implementation until this year to offer a recovery period to the students and schools from the learning losses caused by the pandemic.

Superintendent Eric Mackey expressed his confidence that this year’s current third-graders will achieve the required score to advance to fourth grade. The Alabama State Board of Education has approved the score that over 50,000 students will need to attain for this advancement.

In 2019, the Alabama Literacy Act was passed by lawmakers, which mandates that third-grade students must meet specific reading benchmarks before advancing to the fourth grade. To achieve this, students are required to attain a minimum score on the state’s standardized reading assessment or showcase mastery of all the third-grade state reading standards through a portfolio.

Back in August, Gov. Kay Ivey made it clear that she was against any additional postponement of the retention provision.

According to Mackey, the board members have to establish a fresh score on the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program as the state has modified its reading test to comply with the most recent standards.

According to Mackey, it’s a challenging task to predict the number of students who would be held back based on that score. However, he made an estimate of approximately 10,000 to 12,000 students.

According to Mackey, not all students who fail the third-grade reading test would have to repeat the grade. In fact, some of them could attend summer school and retake the exam while others may be promoted through a reading portfolio assessment.

According to sources, the score suggested by Mackey was opposed by three board members who deemed it to be insufficient.

Stephanie Bell, a board member, expressed her concern about the possibility of setting the bar too low, stating that it would be a great disservice.

It is possible that the board will contemplate resetting the score for the upcoming year.

As per the law, it is mandatory for teachers to undergo training in reading instruction, periodic reading tests from kindergarten to third grade, and having reading coaches to assist teachers with their teaching practices. Furthermore, summer reading camps are also organized to provide additional support and help to students who are struggling with reading.

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MBS Staff
MBS Staff
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