Proposed legislation could hold back Alabama 3rd grade students for insufficient reading skills

State House Representative Terri Collins, who represents Decatur, is expected to file the Alabama Literacy Act this week.

Posted: Apr 9, 2019 7:04 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2019 9:23 PM

Proposed legislation could keep your child from moving on to fourth grade if their reading skills fell below standards.

State House Representative Terri Collins, who represents Decatur, is expected to file the Alabama Literacy Act this week.

Alex Corbin teaches reading to more than 100 seventh and eighth grade students at McNair Junior High School in Huntsville. She said if a bigger focus was put on reading in third grade, it could help some of her students have greater success once they reach junior high.

"It's one of those things that you are going to use everyday of your life for any and everything that you do," she said. "Our one-on-one time is to go through and see what need they need, and to pull them up at least 2 or 3 grade levels and to get them reading on the grade level they should be reading on."

Corbin gives her students daily reminders about why literacy is important.

"You don't want to go to your job interview and have someone have to read your job application to you," she said.

The Alabama Literacy Act would fall in line with similar laws in 16 other states. In the bill, 3rd grade students would be held back if their reading skills fell below standards. Hold back laws exist in every state surrounding Alabama, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"If we can improve it starting in the younger years instead of waiting until we are 12 or 13 years old, then that's what we need to do," Corbin said.

A draft of the bill says it would create a task force to make recommendations to the Alabama State Department of Education on how reading skills should be measured. Corbin said she hopes a recommendation would include relying on more than just standardized testing.

"Holding them back simply based off the way they test, I don't feel like would be completely accurate, but taking that test into consideration and other measures you can do to assess them would be completely imperative for them," she said.

She thinks if the law is passed, then it could change many students' lives.

"It would have a huge positive impact on the reading, and it would be very beneficial for teachers as well," she said.

According to a draft of the bill, teachers would also receive additional professional development. It would include helping them to identify students with dyslexia and to make sure those students are successful in the classroom.

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