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Third graders who fail new reading test three times will not advance to fourth grade, proposed bill says

1 year 1 month 1 week ago Tuesday, June 06 2023 Jun 6, 2023 June 06, 2023 7:01 PM June 06, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- School is out for the summer, but legislators are working on something to hopefully boost reading comprehension for elementary school students. 

A recent report shows Louisiana's fourth grade reading levels among the lowest in the nation, trailing 40 other states.

"It's been a big challenge in Louisiana for a long time. About half of our third graders can't read on grade level," State Rep. Richard Nelson, (R), St. Tammany Parish, said.

That's why Rep. Nelson says he authored a bill for a new reading test that will be given to students in grades kindergarten though third.

Third graders who fail the test three times will not advance to fourth grade.

"When they roll into kindergarten, everybody will know, hey in the next four years, I have to be able to meet this minimum level of reading competency before I am able to pass up," Nelson said.

Other states have had success with a similar idea.

"States like Mississippi have been able to go from 49th in the country to 21st in the county in fourth grade reading, which is a huge jump," Nelson said.

Not everyone was sold on it. As the bill heads to the governor's desk, there are questions about how school systems will cover the cost of additional programs tied to the testing.

"If we're going to do like Mississippi, they hired reading coaches for K through third grade. They put other things in place. There is going to be a cost," State Senator, Edward Price, (D), Gonzales, said.

Nelson, also a candidate for governor, says the state's $4.2 billion given to schools for teachers should cover it.

"If we're not using the money to teach kids how to read, I don't know what we're spending it on," Nelson said.

There are exceptions allowing certain students with learning disabilities to pass regardless of the test score.

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